Cyclonic winds, cyclones: South Asia

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Cyclones in India


The Times of India

Cyclones in India, 1891-2012
From: The Times of India

See graphic:

Cyclones in India, 1891-2012

1891-2023: ‘Severe’ category

Anjali Marar, June 13, 2023: The Indian Express

It is after 25 years that Gujarat coast is bracing for a cyclone in June. Biparjoy will be only the fifth cyclone of the ‘severe’ (wind speed of 48 – 63 kms/hr) or higher category to cross Gujarat, if realised, as per the forecast issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Biparjoy is the only third ‘extremely severe’ cyclone to develop in the Arabian Sea in June in 58 years, the data suggested.

The ‘Extremely Severe’ Cyclone Biparjoy (wind speed 90 – 119 kms/hr) is expected to cross Saurashtra-Kutch and Pakistan between Mandvi, Gujarat and Karachi, Pakistan near Jakhau Port in Gujarat by Thursday afternoon as ‘Very Severe’ cyclone with a maximum wind speed of 125 – 135 kms/hr, the IMD has predicted. ” As on 8.30am of Monday, Biporjoy was located 320kms south-southwest of Porbandar,, 360kms south-southwest of Dwaraka, 440kms south of Jakhau Port, 440kms south-southwest of Naliya and 620kms south of Karachi, Pakistan,” the Met department’s latest cyclone update said.

Since 1891, only five cyclones of the ‘severe’ category (wind speed 89 – 117 kms/hr) or above have made a landfall over Gujarat in June, the IMD’s cyclone atlas stated. Notably, all of these were post 1900. These ‘severe’ or higher intensity cyclones were during 1920, 1961, 1964 , 1996 and 1998. Overall, 16 depressions and cyclones, formed in the Arabian Sea during the past 132 years, have reached Gujarat, the IMD’s data stated.

While the naming of cyclones is a more recent initiative, a ‘severe’ cyclone with a maximum wind speed of 100kms/hr had made a landfall close to Diu on June 18, 1996. Another stom, had crossed as an ‘extremely severe’ cyclone with a maximum wind speed of 166kms/hr near Porbandar on June 9, 1998.

What makes cyclone Biparjoy unique is its intensity and pace of movement in the sea since last week. The North Indian Ocean basin reports the maximum cyclogenesis in the months of May and November. June, being the Southwest monsoon onset month, the conditions for the development of cyclones in this basin are generally not conducive. This is mainly due to the dominance of the monsoon wind flow.

According to the IMD, the probability for a depression to intensify into a ‘severe’ cyclone or higher in June is about 35 per cent, that too, across the land, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea put together. Which is why, there have been only two cyclones previously — in 1977 and 1998 — that intensified into the ‘extremely severe’ category with Biparjoy becoming the newest addition to this list.

While India’s eastern coast is highly prone to cyclones, some districts along the west coast — especially in Kerala, Konkan-Goa, north Konkan and Gujarat — too are equally prone to cyclones. But, as the overall number of cyclones formed in the Arabian Sea (average 1) are fewer than those formed in the Bay of Bengal (average 3) in a year, the west coast is less affected.

In India, the IMD has identified 72 coastal districts along with 24 neighbouring districts within the range of 100kms from the coast to be the most vulnerable to cyclones based on the hazard and maximum possible wind, rainfall and other impacts caused by cyclones. These districts are further classified into ‘very highly’ prone (12) , ‘highly’ prone (41), ‘moderately’ prone(30) and ‘less’ prone (13).

Junagadh and Kutch districts of Gujarat are among the ‘highly’ prone category whereas Ahmedabad, Bhavnagar, Amreli, Jamnagar, Anand, Navsari, Surat, Valsad, Bharuch, Porbandar, Rajkot and Vadodara are ‘moderately’ cyclone prone districts. Surendranagar and Kheda and ‘less’ cyclone prone districts of Gujarat. The IMD cyclone data also suggests that, in the past, Gujarat’s Junagadh suffered from four severe cyclones whereas Kutch, Bhavnagar, Porbandar (3 cyclones, each), Amreli and Rajkot (2 cyclones, each) whereas Jamnagar, Ahmedabad, Anand (one cyclone, each).

Why Arabian Sea is safer — relatively

Of all the cyclones that emerge in the north Indian Ocean, about 30 per cent are formed in the Arabian Sea and the rest in the Bay of Bengal. One of the reasons is the relatively warmer sea surface waters in the Bay of Bengal that helps the formation of cyclones. Only a fourth of all cyclones in the Arabian Sea move towards the Indian coastline. The rest move northwards towards Pakis-tan or northwestwards towards Iran or Oman.

Anjali Marar works at the Raman Research Institute, Bengaluru.

1976, 1985, 2010-2019

Neha Madaan, Nov 13, 2019: The Times of India

Cyclone Bulbul left a trail of destruction in West Bengal and Odisha in November 2019
From: Neha Madaan, Nov 13, 2019: The Times of India

The number of cyclones and severe cyclones in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal has risen by nearly 11% in the last decade, with an alarming 32% increase recorded in the last five years, data from the India Meteorological Department reveals.

Back-to-back cyclones have caused havoc and disrupted weather in recent months. But the sharp rise in the past five years in comparison with previous decades could be an alarming pointer to the calamitous effects of global warming, weather officials said.

There were seven cyclones each in 2018 and 2019, the highest since 1985. Similarly, six severe cyclones each hit India in 2018 and 2019, the highest since 1976, when seven were recorded. This year, extremely severe cyclone Fani devastated Odisha and parts of West Bengal in April. Vayu, another very severe cyclone, delayed the monsoon’s onset over parts of the country.

‘On average, four cyclones hit India each yr this decade’

On average, four cyclones affected India each year during this decade (2010-2019), higher than the average of three in the previous decades since 1980, Anupam Kashyapi, head of weather, India Meteorological Department, Pune, told TOI.

“The average number of cyclones for the last five years is five and that for severe cyclones around three, indicating an increase in the number and severity of cyclonic storms in recent years,” he added.

Cyclones and its variants this year have been affecting life and property in India. The first to hit India this year was cyclone Pabuk which emerged in the north Indian Ocean region over Andaman Sea in January. It did not cause any devastation. Fani, which formed over east-central equatorial Indian Ocean and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal, from April 26 to May 4 was the most intense cyclonic storm crossing Odisha coast during the pre-monsoon season since 1965. Some areas are still coping with the devastation Fani caused.

Vayu, which formed from June 10 to June 17 in the Arabian Sea, depleted all the moisture from the south peninsula and parts of Maharashtra after the monsoon had set over Kerala. “The storm significantly delayed the monsoon in these parts as its current took time to recover,” Kashyapi said.

Kyarr in October brought heavy to very heavy rain along the west coast in Karnataka, Maharashtra, and south Gujarat while Maha did something similar towards the end of October and early November when it usually does not rain with such intensity.

The most recent very severe cyclonic storm Bulbul took a toll on life and property in southern parts of Gangetic West Bengal in the Sundarbans.

In brief

The Times of India

See graphic

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) classifies cyclonic winds into three categories--cyclonic disturbance (maximum wind speed 59kmhr), cyclones (wind speed 60 to 90 kmhr) and severe cyclones (wind speed 90 kmhr or more). Cyclone data for the years 1891 to 2012 shows a seasonal pattern. The mildest of these turbulent wind systems -cyclonic disturbances -peak in the monsoon season with an average of six to seven such incidents a year. The probability of cyclones and severe cyclones, on the other hand, is highest in the post-monsoon months. The data also shows that on an average, the Bay of Bengal is hit by at least one severe cyclone and a minimum of two cyclones each year

The cyclone season

October 10, 2018: Hindustan Times

The country’s cyclone season runs from April to December, with severe storms often causing dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of thousands of people from low-lying villages and wide damage to crops and property.

Categorisation of cyclones

October 10, 2018: Hindustan Times

Here’s how cyclones are categorised and what they mean:

Categories of Cyclones

Category 1: Wind and gales of 90-125 kph, negligible house damage, some damage to trees and crops.

Category 2: Destructive winds of 125-164 kph. Minor house damage, significant damage to trees, crops and vehicles, risk of power failure.

Category 3: Very destructive winds of 165-224 kph. Some roof and structural damage, some caravans destroyed, power failure likely.

Category 4: Very destructive winds of 225-279 kph. Significant roofing loss and structural damage, vehicles blown away, widespread power failures.

Category 5: Very destructive winds gusts of more than 280 kph. Extremely dangerous with widespread destruction.

A backgrounder

Why we don’t have hurricanes in India, November 19, 2018: The Times of India

After Titli and Luban, now Gaja. And that’s just in 2018. Cyclones of devastating impact often have the most disarming names. But who names cyclones and why is it hurricane Katrina but cyclone Nilofar?

What is the difference between hurricane, typhoon and cyclone?

They are all tropical cyclones, but different basins use different nomenclature. Tropical cyclones are formed in eight basins — Northern Atlantic, Northeastern Pacific, North Central Pacific, Northwestern Pacific, Northern Indian Ocean, Southwestern Indian Ocean, South and Southwestern Pacific and Southeastern Indian Ocean. In the North Atlantic Ocean, Northwest Pacific Ocean east of the International Date Line and South Pacific Ocean, they are called hurricanes. Typhoon is the name given to a tropical cyclone formed in the Northwest Pacific Ocean west of the dateline. In southwest Pacific Ocean and southeast Indian Ocean, it’s called a severe tropical cyclone. Similarly, tropical cyclones in the north Indian Ocean and southwest Indian Ocean are called severe cyclonic storm and tropical cyclone, respectively.

How is a cyclone formed?

A tropical cyclone is a storm system that is characterised by a lowpressure centre that produces strong winds and heavy rain. A tropical cyclone feeds on heat released by the condensation of moist air. The latent heat gets converted into kinetic energy and feeds the strong winds emerging out of it. Because of its warm centre, it’s often called a warm core storm system. Cyclonic storms have counterclockwise rotation in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise rotation in the Southern Hemisphere. Developed over warm water bodies, like oceans and seas, they lose their strength once they move over land. Apart from ( their devastating nature, they help in the global atmospheric circulation mechanism by carrying heat and energy away from the tropics towards temperate latitudes.

Why are cyclones named?

Tropical cyclones are named to provide ease of communication between forecasters and the general public. Apart from this, they can often last a week or longer and the same basin can have more than one cyclone. Hence, assigning names reduces confusion about what storm is being described. Naming of cyclones started in the early 20th century when an Australian forecaster started naming cyclones after politicians he disliked. During World War II, American meteorologists started naming cyclones after their wives and girlfriends and all cyclones were christened with female names. In the early 50s, they were identified by the phonetic alphabet — Able, Baker, Charlie and so on. In 1953, the US Weather Bureau again switched to women’s names. Now, cyclones are given names that are contributed by member nations of the World Meteorological Organisation. The new names include those identified with men, women, flowers and so on. In the North Atlantic and Northeastern Pacific regions, feminine and masculine names are alternated in alphabetical order during a given season.

What is the process of naming cyclones?

The regional body responsible for monitoring tropical cyclones in a particular basin makes a list of cyclone names for that particular basin. There are five such bodies that keep 10 pre-designated lists of cyclone names. The names are proposed by the member countries. For instance, the names of cyclones in northern Indian Ocean are contributed by Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Different basins use different methods for naming cyclones. In Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and the North Atlantic there are six lists, each having 21 names. These lists are annually rotated. The names of exceptionally destructive storms are retired from the list and hence Katrina can never reappear. In northern Indian Ocean there is no yearly list.

Damage caused by cyclones

How India cut cyclone deaths: 1999> 2021

Pradeep Thakur, May 28, 2021: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Since the 1999 super cyclone in Odisha, which claimed over 10,000 lives, to Cyclone Yaas when casualties have been limited to less than half-a-dozen, India seems to have made a remarkable progress in disaster risk reduction (DRR).

Largescale rescue and relief operation, with the cooperation of both the Centre and states, ensured more than 14 lakh people evacuated to safe shelters, limiting casualties to negligible numbers in Odisha and West Bengal, the two states that came in the direct path of a severe cyclone making a landfall.

This is seen as the result of a rigorous exercise and strengthening of the DRR mechanism over the last few years: a perfect coordination between the Centre and state agencies. The feat has also been possible for significantly increasing funding for DRR activities — up from an average $3-4 billion over five years in the last decade to $4 billion a year for the last two consecutive years.

India takes every calamity as a challenge to minimise casualties to almost zero. This remarkable demonstration of “zero casualty” approach has been discussed and celebrated at global forums with the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) citing Odisha’s cyclone shelters and evacuation efforts as role models for others in the world to emulate.

More than eight lakh people were evacuated in West Bengal and six lakh in Odisha over the last couple of days to evade the fury of a severe cyclone. Besides the alertness of the state administration, the central National Crisis Management Committee, headed by the cabinet secretary, met twice in the last week; the PM and the Home minister chaired separate high level meetings ensuring all missions were in operational mode. The high level of alertness was also necessary in view of last week’s cyclone Tauktae that had left 193 dead, 70 of them on Barge P-305, off Mumbai coast when it sank in the Arabian sea.

By the time Yaas made a landfall on Wednesday, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) had deployed 107 teams, in addition to the 17 columns of the Army and four warships of the Navy with helicopters onboard in full readiness. The coast guard had put five of its ships and one aircraft in operation. Another five Navy ships were on a standby. The most modern satellites and early warning systems come as useful tools to predict the course of cyclones a week in advance, giving authorities time to prepare.

Over the last decade, India has majorly invested in DRR by building safe shelter homes around coastal districts, creating flood embankments, raising of several battalions of the NDRF and SDRF (State Disaster Response Force) — a highly skilled trained force equipped with modern technology and equipment. The NDRF alone has nearly 14,000 personnel. A similar army is available through the SDRFin states, trained in DRR.

From investing in flood mitigation measures to building disaster resilient infrastructure, India has set aside huge funds towards DRR. Whether it means deployment of the most modern early warning system or launching of the latest satellites, New Delhi has been pursuing an aggressive agenda to bring down economic losses and loss of lives to disasters.

Naming tropical cyclones

World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) warning centres

The Times of India

Cyclones are officially named by one of the World Meteorological Organization's (WMO) warning centres based across the globe. The WMO/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) includes 13 countries -- India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

So is there any criteria when it comes to naming cyclones?

While the name should ideally be short and understandable, an important factor is that it must not be insensitive. But why name them in the first place? For most part, nomenclature helps in attaining clarity and avoiding confusion in case there's more than one cyclone hitting coast at a time. In the long run, enlisting a name also proves to be useful when a certain cyclone needs to be mentioned

Arpit Mutha@ArpitMutha7 wrote on May 15 2021:

India has reportedly proposed Gati (speed),Tej, Marasu (musical instrument in Tamil), Aag (fire) and Neer (water),The names of the next few cyclones adopted by member countries in April 2020 are as follows: Burevi (Maldives), Tauktae (Myanmar),Yaas (Oman), and Gulab (Pak) adds: Tej with a j means ‘light, lustrous’ in Sanskrit and is the halo of holy personages. Tez with a z means ‘fast’

How tropical cyclones are named

The Hindustan Times, December 9, 2016

October 10, 2018: Hindustan Times

• Tropical cyclones are named to provide easy communication between forecasters and the general public regarding forecasts, watches, and warnings.

• The first use of a proper name for a tropical cyclone was by an Australian forecaster early in the 20th century. He gave tropical cyclone names after political figures he disliked.

• During World War II, tropical cyclones were informally given women’s names by US Army Air Corp and Navy meteorologists (after their girlfriends or wives) who were monitoring and forecasting tropical cyclones over the Pacific.

• From 1950 to 1952, tropical cyclones of the North Atlantic Ocean were identified by the phonetic alphabet (Able-Baker-Charlie-etc.), but in 1953 the US Weather Bureau switched to women’s names. In 1979, the World Meteorological Organization and the US National Weather Service (NWS) switched to a list of names that also included men’s names.

• The Northeast Pacific basin tropical cyclones were named using women’s names starting in 1959 for storms near Hawaii and in 1960 for the remainder of the Northeast Pacific basin. In 1978, both men’s and women’s names were utilised.

• The Northwest Pacific basin tropical cyclones were given women’s names officially starting in 1945 and men’s names were also included beginning in 1979. Beginning on 1 January 2000, tropical cyclones in the Northwest Pacific basin are being named from a new and very different list of names.

• The Southwest Indian Ocean tropical cyclones were first named during the 1960/1961 season.

• The Australian and South Pacific region (east of 90E, south of the equator) started giving women’s names to the storms in 1964 and both men’s and women’s names in 1974/1975.

• The North Indian Ocean region tropical cyclones are being named since October 2004.

In 2016, Bay of Bengal witnessed Roanu, Kyant, Nada and Vardah (names of the tropical cyclones) which also affected India.

Vardah is the Arabic and Urdu word for ‘rose’, a name provided by Pakistan in the comprehensive nomenclature list for cyclones in the Arabian sea and Bay of Bengal.

In September 2004, an international panel on tropical cyclones decided that countries from the region would each put in names, which would be assigned to storms in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea.

Eight countries -- India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand – participated and came up with a list of 64 names.

In the event of a storm, the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre, New Delhi, selects a name from the list.

The late origin of this naming system -- unlike storms in the Atlantic, which have been getting named since 1953 -- was ostensibly to protect sensitivities in the ethnically diverse region.

The purpose of the move was also to make it easier for “people easily to understand and remember the tropical cyclone/hurricane in a region, thus to facilitate disaster risk awareness, preparedness, management and reduction,” according to the IMD.

Citizens can submit names to the Director General of Meteorology, IMD, for consideration, but the weather agency has strict rules for the selection process.

A name, for instance, ‘should be short and readily understood when broadcast’. The names must also be neutral, ‘not culturally sensitive and not convey some unintended and potentially inflammatory meaning’.

Furthermore, on the account of the ‘death and destruction’ a storm in the Indian Ocean causes, their names are retired after use, unlike those in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific lists, which are reused every few years.

Names reused every six years

• Atlantic and Pacific storm names are reused every six years, but are retired “if a storm is so deadly or costly that the future use of the name would be insensitive or confusing,” according to forecasters at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami.

• Hurricane Sandy was the 77th name to be retired from the Atlantic list since 1954. It will be replaced with “Sara” beginning in 2018, when the list from 2012 is repeated. Hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season that hit the US last year.

Not without controversy

Cyclone Mahasen, which hit in 2013 and was named by Sri Lanka, was changed to Viyaru after protests by nationalists and officials in Sri Lanka.

They said Mahasen was a king who had brought peace and prosperity to the island, and it was wrong to name a calamity after him.

Individual cyclones


Parveen Kaswan, IFS @ParveenKaswan wrote on May 15, 2021

Cyclone names are given by countries on rotation basis in region.

Cyclone Tauktae's (pronounced Tau'Te) [seen in 2021] name originates from a Burmese word which translates to gecko -- a "highly vocal lizard". The cyclone was named by Myanmar.

Storm surges

Why they are so dangerous

May 3, 2019: NDTV

What Is A Storm Surge And Why Is It So Dangerous?

The surge happens when sea levels rise dramatically during a storm, sending a destructive wall of water gushing over people and property on land

Agence France-Presse

Severe cyclone Fani, which blasted ashore on Friday in the eastern part of the country, is expected to pack a frequently underestimated yet lethal threat: storm surge. The surge happens when sea levels rise dramatically during a storm, sending a destructive wall of water gushing over people and property on land.

Here are key questions and answers on the phenomenon:

How does it work?

Storm surge is not the result of rainfall or flooding, rather it happens when powerful winds push ocean water rushing toward land. The phenomenon is an "abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted... tides," according to the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Forecasters said a surge of 1.5 metres could hit the eastern state Odisha, where the monster cyclone is forecast to make landfall.

Why is it so dangerous?

In previous storms, people have failed to flee because they did not grasp the storm surge's deadly threat. That was the case for 2013's Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left 7,350 dead or missing in the central Philippines, primarily due to the surge. A wall of water estimated to be 7.5 metres high, blasted into coastal towns like Tacloban, a city of 240,000 people. Also, surges can extend for dozens of miles inland, overwhelming buildings quickly and cutting off roads. People can end up drowning in their cars or homes. The walls of water can begin before storms even make landfall, making it harder to sound the alarm in time to save lives.

What are the contributing factors?

The power of a surge is dictated by factors including a storm's size and intensity, as well as the geography of the coastline and sea level.

Bays tend to funnel the surge, pushing water to higher levels, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. Tacloban, the worst hit city in Haiyan, sits less than five metres above sea level. The town and others nearby were defenceless against the surge that was also funnelled through a shallow bay sandwiched between neighbouring islands. Rising seas and warming oceans due to climate change are also expected to amplify the effects of storm surge in the coming decades. Numerous studies have predicted that storm surges will become more frequent and deadly as the planet warms.

Can we protect against storm surge?

One of the best protections is clear, early warnings to people in the surge's sights and evacuations to areas of higher elevation. Low-lying areas like the US state of Louisiana have also long used levees as a measure of protection against flooding and, by extension, storm surge.

However, most of the 1,800 deaths from Hurricane Katrina, which struck the US Gulf Coast in 2005, are attributed to storm surge, NOAA said.

Eighty per cent of New Orleans found itself submerged when the levees that surround it broke and the water rushed in.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)


1998: super cyclone in Gujarat


June 14, 2023: The Indian Express


A ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ crossed the Gujarat coast near Porbandar with an intensity of 167 km per hour at the time of landfall, killing 1,173 people with another 1,774 reported missing, according to official data. Media reports, however, suggested at least 4,000 people were killed.


Leena Misra, June 18, 2023: The Indian Express

The ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ hit the Gujarat coast on June 9-10, 1998, with a speed of 167 kmph, impacting the districts of Porbandar, Jamnagar and Kutch and killing thousands. While a Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) report recorded the official death toll at 1,680, it is believed that the numbers could have been much higher as many bodies that were flung into the sea could not be traced.

A June 11, 1998, report in The Indian Express read: “Sea water flooded the entire town, entered the first floor (of) houses in the multi-storey Kandla Port Trust (KPT) residential colony forcing people to move higher up. The tidal water was two metres high at the power jetty. A mammoth petrol tank of an oil company was upturned. The Kandla Salt Works, which is Asia’s biggest, vanished without a trace.”

Many of those who died were migrants from as far as Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – labourers working at the Kandla Port or in the salt factories. “Bodies, shovelled into trucks, were taken out, drenched with diesel and burnt in the open…”, read another report of June 12, 1998, that appeared in The Indian Express. Eyewitnesses say bodies surfaced later at ports and in salt factories. Many were swept away and their bodies were not found. “Only bodies of those were found who had clung to trees, poles or some other objects hoping to survive the cyclone’s fury,” read a June 11 report.

Officials who were part of the Keshubhai Patel-led government then recall that the storm that “seemed to have blown over” returned with increased ferocity.

Pravin Laheri, then principal secretary to chief minister Keshubhai Patel, recalls how the cyclone had “changed course” and caught state authorities unawares. “Vajubhai Vala (then finance minister) had already announced that the cyclone had blown over, but once it reached Jodiya (in Jamnagar district), it began to intensify. The intensity grew once it reached the Gulf of Kutch,” recalls Laheri, calling it a “freak incident”.

“In fact, thinking that the cyclone had blown over, Kandla Port had begun operations… those days the weather alert systems were not as sophisticated as they are today,” he adds.

Laheri describes the sea inundating the salt pans “like a tsunami” and recalls how a student of National Institute of Technology (NIFT) lost her father on a merchant vessel that sank near Salaya port in Dwarka.

An IMD report from then states that the “system” maintained its intensity as a very severe cyclonic storm “even after crossing the coast till noon when it lay over the Gulf of Kutch about 50 km south west of Kandla at 9 hrs of June 9” before it weakened. According to the IMD report, 1,173 people died and 1,774 persons were reported missing.

Retired IAS officer and the then finance secretary KV Bhanujan recalls how “the data we received did not show the cyclone path including Kutch…it was very unexpected. Also the technology was not as advanced those days. Today you get (alerts) very promptly”.

The cyclone also inflicted huge losses. A publication by the MHA, ‘Disaster, Risk Management and The Role of Corporate Sector’, notes how the cyclone of 1998, “ripped through the industrial heart of Gujarat and inflicted an economic loss of nearly Rupees 2,500 crores. The Kandla Port, gateway to the granaries of north India and the industrial belt of west and north India, and neighboring facilities suffered extensive damage and a loss of nearly (Rs)600 crores.

The corporate sector including Reliance Industries’ Jamnagar oil refinery suffered losses amounting to Rupees 100 crore and Gujarat State Fertilizer Corporation’s output was disrupted to the tune of 2,000 tonnes per day. The wind lifted the heavy cranes and machinery and twisted the transmission towers”.

Laheri recalls that handling the compensation process was complicated. “Those days there was no Aadhaar card (for identification)…about 500 of them had ration cards as proof… Also, most of the bodies had started rotting and were beyond recognition,” he says.

Mihir Bhatt, founder of the All-India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), an Ahmedabad-based NGO who was in Kutch a day after the cyclone hit, recalls how “everything seemed cleaned up”. “I have never seen so many roofless structures. There was complete devastation…people had been swept away, there were bodies, some embedded in the beach sand,” says Bhatt.

1998: super cyclone in Odisha

Unofficial estimates of death toll range anywhere between 10,000 and 30,000

1999: super cyclone in Odisha


June 14, 2023: The Indian Express


A ‘super cyclonic storm’ crossed the Odisha coast near Paradip with a wind speed of 260 km per hour at the time of landfall, killing 9,885 people and injuring 2,142, according to official estimates.

Cyclone Vardah: December 2016

Cyclone Vardah, evacuation and caution; Operation Madad by the Indian Navy, some factual information; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, December 13, 2016

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

Please see: Andaman And Nicobar Islands: Natural calamities

Tamil Nadu

A pictoral representation of cyclone Vardah heading towards Chennai in Tamil Nadu; Graphic courtesy: The Hindu, December 12, 2016

The Hindu, December 12, 2016

Cyclone Vardah heads towards Chennai shores

Cyclonic storm Vardah is likely to make landfall by December 12, 2016 along north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast, close to Chennai, accompanied by strong winds with speeds of 80 to 90 kmph.

S. Balachandran, director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre in Chennai, told the media on Sunday the rains would gradually increase from the morning of December 12 and were expected to last until the next day in the northern districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram.

Moderate rain

S.B.Thampi, Deputy Director General of Meteorology said, most places along north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coasts would get to light to moderate rain with possibilities of heavy rainfall of up to 20 cm as the system makes landfall.

“During landfall, Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram and Puducherry will get rainfall and once the system crosses, Vellore and Dharmapuri will begin to get rains,” he said.

Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam chaired a meeting in the Secretariat on Sunday to review the preparations by government agencies. Schools and colleges in Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Villupuram and Cuddalore districts have been closed on Monday.

The government also issued an advisory to private undertakings and establishments to permit their staff to avail of a holiday or to work from home.

“Due to the storm surge, the seas are expected to be rough and the tidal wave will be 1 m higher than normal. Fishermen have been warned not to venture out into the sea,” he said.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force teams have been stationed at Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram districts as a precautionary measure.


The Hindu, December 13, 2016

Cyclone Vardah made landfall in Chennai on December 12, 2016 between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., uprooting trees, defacing highrises, smashing cars, disrupting public transport and telecommunication, bringing the metropolitan area to a standstill.

The weather system that was first noticed nearly five days ago, grew into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ and by the time it crossed the city near the Chennai Port, it had weakened into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ with maximum wind speeds touching 110 kmph-120 kmph.

Lull as eye crosses city

This was a large weather system, measuring nearly 40 km in diameter, which explains the time taken for the system to cross.

There was a lull between 2-30 p.m. and 5 p.m. as the eyewall of the cyclone was in transit and it normally is empty, bringing very little, or no rainfall.

The windspeeds decreased to 60-70 kmph, and the system now a ‘cyclonic storm’ moved westwards, bringing moderate to heavy rainfall to the interior areas as well. Rainfall over the northern coastal districts is expected to continue till Tuesday noon. Vardah, an Urdu word meaning red rose, contributed by Pakistan, will turn into a deep depression early on Tuesday, sources said.

While vast devastation was caused to trees and property, the total rainfall received has only partly bridged the city’s rain deficit. Before Vardah struck, the annual rainfall deficit was over 60 cm, and while the storm has narrowed the gap, there is a solid 40 cm of rainfall the city needs for the reservoirs to fill up and meet its water needs until the next monsoon.

Water managers expect another spell of rainfall before the next monsoon.

Official sources said three people had died from rain-related causes in the State on Monday. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam announced a solatium of Rs. 4 lakh each to the families of the victims.

Corporation officials pegged the number of trees fallen at 568 along the 471 bus routes and over 33,000 interior roads in the 426 sq km of the Greater Chennai Corporation limits, impeding the flow of traffic.

Most of the suburbs were cut off from other parts of the metropolitan area.

As dark clouds gathered over the city all day, power supply was disrupted. Banking transactions were affected and PoS devices failed at retail outlets.

Holiday for schools

The Tamil Nadu government declared Tuesday would be a holiday for educational institutions in three districts.

“All government, government-aided, private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts will remain closed on December 13,” an official release said.

Steps by the central government

The Hindu, December 19, 2016

Central team to visit TN to assess Vardah impact

At least 18 people were killed when cyclone Vardah hit Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh on December 12.

The team, headed by Joint Secretary Praveen Vashishtha from the Home Ministry comprised officials from the Ministries of Finance, Agriculture, Industries and Rural Development, among others.

Immediately after the cyclone, the Chief Minister had sought disbursal of Rs. 1,000 crore as an interim relief package. However, the Central Government had responded by releasing an interim aid of Rs. 500 crore, which the State felt was inadequate.

Mr. Panneerselvam, accompanied by officials, called on Tamil Nadu Governor (in-charge) Ch. Vidyasagar Rao at the Raj Bhavan. The meeting, described as a courtesy call in an official release, came as a surprise since it came just one day ahead of the Chief Minister’s Delhi visit.

Andhra Pradesh

The Andhra Pradesh government remains on high alert, monitoring the progress of cyclone Vardah with real-time updates from the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), even as the system changed course towards the northern Tamil Nadu coast. Its initial track forecast landfall between East Godavari (Kakinada) and Nellore districts.

The government has been tapping into ISRO’s data following an understanding reached with the agency earlier this year for weather forecasting.

Naidu meets ISRO team

Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who cancelled his Dubai visit to monitor the likely impact of Vardah, held a meeting with ISRO scientists on Saturday.

According to official sources, the State government is getting inputs from the ISRO through its National Remote Sensing Centre and other wings round the clock.

Contingency plan

Later in a teleconference, Mr. Naidu told officials of various departments that the cyclone could cross the coast between Sriharikota and Chennai by Monday evening and trigger heavy rains in Chittoor, Kadapa and Nellore districts. He called upon the heads of departments to be prepared to face the contingency by drawing on their experience during Cyclone Hudhud two years ago.

NDRF teams have been deployed in Sullurpet and Tada in Nellore district. Four IAS officers — Mukesh Kumar Meena, B. Sridhar, M. Ravi Chandra and Ram Gopal — have been deputed as special officers to Prakasam, Nellore, Chittoor and Kadapa to handle the situation.

Cyclone Mora: May 2017

Bangladesh and northeastern India

May 31, 2017: The Hindu

Cyclone Mora that lashed Bangladesh's coastlines forcing the evacuation of millions of people and shutting the country's main port and river transport, killed at least six people in Cox’s Bazar and Rangamati before moving to northeastern India.

The cyclone, which lashed the coastal belt with a wind speed of 128 kmph and made landfall at around 6 a.m. (0000 GMT), cut off Kutubdia, Moheshkhali and Teknaf from other parts of the country.

Road transportation was affected, phone lines were disrupted, more than 20,000 houses destroyed and hundreds of trees were uprooted. The Disaster Management Ministry said it moved to safety more than 2.5 million people in 10 coastal districts which were most vulnerable to the tropical storm as the Met Office upgraded the cyclone warning to Great Danger No. 10, the highest level.

About 18 million people live in 19 coastal districts, 10 of them in high-risk areas. As it moved towards India, heavy showers and gusty winds lashed Mizoram on Tuesday disrupting power and telecommunication network, damaging houses and triggering landslides.

Cyclone Ockhi: December 2017

In brief

Amitabh Sinha, A cyclone called Ockhi — why this is raising such an unusual storm, December 4, 2017: The Indian Express

The name Ockhi was given by Bangladesh, (In Bengali, ockhi means ‘eye’.)

Cyclones are no strangers to the Indian coast, our east coast in particular witnessing several cyclonic storms each year. Yet, Ockhi, the latest powerful cyclone, is unlike other recent ones.

What is special about Ockhi?

Mostly, the area in which it developed. Cyclones are known to originate in both the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea sides of the northern Indian Ocean; there is much more frequency on the Bay of Bengal side though, especially of the stronger cyclones — in fact, the Bay of Bengal side witnesses four times more cyclones than the Arabian Sea side on average.

But Ockhi originated near the south-western coast of Sri Lanka, and travelled very near the southern-most tip of the Indian mainland, along the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, towards the Lakshadweep islands, where it was at its most powerful. It weakened considerably after that and continued further, taking a north-easterly turn towards the Maharashtra and Gujarat coastlines —cyclones in this area are not a common phenomenon.

Why does the Bay of Bengal have more cyclones than the Arabian Sea?

Meteorologists say the relatively colder waters of the Arabian Sea are not conducive to the formation and intensification of cyclones. Additionally, the eastern coast of India receives cyclones that form not just in the Bay of Bengal, mostly around the Andaman Sea near the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, but also those travelling from the Pacific Ocean, where the frequency of ‘typhoons’, as these are called there, is quite high. Most of these cyclones weaken considerably after encountering a big landmass. Therefore, these do not travel to the Arabian Sea side. The western coast of India thus witnesses only those cyclones that originate locally or the ones, like Ockhi, that travel from the Indian Ocean near Sri Lanka.

How powerful was Ockhi?

Ockhi was described as a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’, the third strongest category according to the definitions used by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Cyclones are categorised by the maximum wind speed they generate. At its most powerful, Ockhi had wind speeds between 155 and 165 km per hour, touching the upper border for ‘very severe cyclonic storm’.

Cyclones with wind speeds between 165 and 220 km per hour are classified as ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’. Those with even higher wind speeds are called ‘super-cyclones’. The most famous instance of a ‘super-cyclone’ was the one that hit the coast of Odisha in October 1999. It was the strongest-ever cyclone recorded in that area, with wind speeds touching 260 km per hour. It was also the most devastating cyclone to have hit India.

The 2013 Phailin cyclone very nearly got categorised as a super-cyclone. It had maximum wind speeds of around 220 km per hour.

Cyclone forecasts by the IMD in the recent past have been made five to six days in advance, thereby minimising the damage caused — was the IMD late in issuing a warning for Ockhi?

How early the forecast is depends on how far we are from the place where the cyclone is emerging. Many of the big cyclones in recent years, like Phailin in 2013, Hudhud in 2014 or Vardah in 2016, developed near the Andaman Sea. From there, it took those cyclones about five to six days to hit the Andhra Pradesh or Odisha coasts.

These forecasts can be made only after an emerging depression is detected to have the properties of a cyclonic storm. This was true in the case of Ockhi as well. But the origin of Ockhi was much closer home. The cyclone formation was detected during the morning of Wednesday, November 29. An alert was issued around noon. But many areas in Tamil Nadu and on the Kerala coast started feeling the impact from Thursday itself. A day later, the Lakshadweep islands bore the brunt of the cyclone. Because it developed nearby, the lead time for the forecast was much less than in other recent cyclone cases.

Impact, state-wise


Prakash Kamat, December 5, 2017: The Hindu

Ripple effects

High tides due to the ripple effectasof Ockhi cyclone that hit Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep damaged several beach shacks, temporary eateries and other tourist structures along Arambol, Morjim, Mandrem and Cavelossim.

Several shacks have reportedly been affected by the swelling of waters along the coastline, due to the twin impact of Ochki cyclone and the super moon last night. Several videos of sea water creeping dangerously close to beach shacks and shack workers scurrying to salvage their beach beds and other equipment were also uploaded to social media on Monday, triggering panic among the tourism and travel industry stakeholders, even as government sources said that efforts were on to declare the damage as a state disaster. The maximum losses was reported in the coastal sub-district of Pernem, where nearly 30 shacks were damaged.

Over 10 shacks at Morjim were damaged while eight each in Mandrem and Arambol too were damaged due to the high waves.

Shack owners claimed that mattresses, plastic tables and other property were damaged by the waves lashed the shacks. There were reports of damages to electronic items such as refrigerators. The water level was so high that the waves inundated their kitchens and destroyed food items which were kept on ground.

Mr. D’Souza said this may force the government to reconsider the location of temporary shack when permits are allotted.

“It is, nevertheless, an eye opener not only for Goa, but other coastal states too, to review tourism trade activities close to the shoreline,” he added.

Meanwhile, a government spokesperson said on Sunday that fishermen have been asked to not venture into the sea at least for the next three days.

A report from North Goa Magistrate Nila Mohanan said that there was considerable damage to almost 50 shacks in Morjim, Mandrem, Arambol and Querim beaches in Pernem taluk of North Goa. In Bardez taluk, only soil erosion in Anjuna and Baga beaches and damage to a retaining wall at Coco beach in Nerul have been been reported.


Op Sahayam/ Indian Navy

December 7, 2017: The Hindu

It has provided assistance to 187 people in distress

The Navy has so far provided assistance to 187 people in distress in sea, as on December 7, 2017, besides saving 148 lives as part of Op Sahayam, an exercise for search and rescue, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) launched in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi.

The force has also evacuated three bodies from deep sea. A media release said nine naval ships besides helicopters and race aircraft remained deployed for extended scouring of seas up to 300 miles west of the Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands and 450 miles off Kerala coast. A P8-I long-range maritime patrol aircraft detected a fishing vessel, St Damian, late Tuesday night some 180 miles northwest of Kavaratti and directed INS Chennai to render assistance. “The 13-member crew were taken on board Chennai early morning on December 6 and provided with food, water and medical aid. The boat was towed and handed over to Coast Guard Ship Shoor as part of Op Synergy since the boat engine had become unserviceable and could not be repaired in sea despite the best efforts by the team of INS Chennai,” the release said.

INS Kalpeni embarked six local fishermen from Kochi and INS Kabra embarked two fishermen from Kollam to join the ongoing SAR (search and rescue) efforts. “INS Jamuna positioned at Kavaratti has provided 12,000 litres of fresh water as requested by the island administration.”

INS Sharda, which returned to Kochi for refuelling, has now embarked materials requested by the Minicoy administration. The items will be delivered on Thursday morning. The naval contingent at Minicoy actively involved in clearing of roads and distribution of rations, the Navy said.

Cyclone Titli: October 2018

Impact, state-wise


October 11, 2018: India Today

Cyclone Titli has made landfall on the coast of Odisha. It is a very severe cyclonic storm. The location of the landfall is 86km Southwest of Gopalpur in Odisha. The cyclone is forecasted to bring in its wake very heavy rain, which could lead to flooding, and strong winds. By night of October 11, 2018, Titli will weaken into a cyclonic storm before ultimately dissipating as a depression by the night of October 12.

Impact on agriculture- Kharif crop

Kharif crop over 2,13,801 ha affected, houses damaged, October 17, 2018: The Hindu

The devastation wrought by the cyclonic storm Titli and the resultant heavy rain has cast a shadow on Dussehra festivities across Odisha, especially for farmers.

Hundreds of puja pandals in the State — where Durga Puja got under way — are witnessing low turnout as people are yet to recover from the shock of the cyclone.

After toiling for six months and investing hard-earned savings, farmers were anticipating a healthy harvest in the next two months. However, cyclone and heavy rain damaged the standing crop at many places.

The kharif crop has been affected over an area of 2,13,801 hectares (paddy 1,48,681 ha and non-paddy 65,120 ha) in nine districts — Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada, Kandhamal, Mayurbhanj, Cuttack, Khordha, Balasore and Puri.

The damage has been severe in Ganjam, Gajapati, Rayagada and Kandhamal. Although all is not lost in districts like Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur and Jajpur, farmers fear that there would be a drop in harvest.

“Multi-department assessment of crop damage is under progress and the final report is expected within a week,” said Bishnupada Sethi, Special Relief Commissioner.

The SRC has also directed District Collectors to provide ex-gratia to the next of the kin of those who died in the cyclone and the resultant floods within three days. The Odisha government had earlier announced an ex-gratia of ₹4 lakh each to the next of kin of the deceased.

As per a report of the Directorate of Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Services, livestock loss has been severe. Fishermen were also not spared, with 300 boats fully damaged and 265 partially damaged. Moreover, 607 fish ponds covering 428.97 ha and 69 private fish seed farms in an area of 47.250 ha have been damaged.

“Who is thinking of any Dussehra festivities? The first priority is to repair damaged houses as winter is fast approaching. This Dussehra has turned into a black one for us,” said Haribandhu Karji, former sarpanch of Gangabada panchayat of Gajapati district, which was worst-hit by the disaster.

Cyclone ‘Gaja’: November 2018

Impact, state-wise

Tamil Nadu and Puducherry- heavy rainfall

November 12, 2018: The Hindu

Coastal areas of north Tamil Nadu would experience moderate rainfall and heavy rainfall in isolated places from the night of November 14, the Met office said. The deep depression over the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone ‘Gaja’. North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to get good rain on November 14 and 15, India Meteorological Department officials said.

Named ‘Gaja’, the cyclone lay 840 km east of Chennai and 880 km east of Nagapattinam.

May weaken gradually

It is expected to move west-northwestwards during the next 36 hours and then west-southwestwards towards the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts in the subsequent 48 hours. While moving west-southwest, it is likely to weaken gradually and cross the north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Cuddalore and Sriharikota during the forenoon of November 15. Rainfall in most places, with heavy spells at isolated places, is likely to start over north coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh from the evening of November 14.

According to the the IMD bulletin, rainfall in most places with heavy falls at isolated places is likely to commence over north coastal Tamil Nadu and the adjoining south coastal Andhra Pradesh from evening of November 14.

On November 15, the rainfall intensity will increase gradually at most places and it will be heavy to very heavy at a few places and extremely heavy (above 20 cm) at isolated places over north Tamil Nadu.

Rainfall is likely to be heavy to very heavy over south Tamil Nadu, south Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema.

100 kmph gale wind

Squally wind speed reaching 45-55 kmph, gusting to 65 kmph is likely to commence along and off north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts from November 14 morning. It is likely to increase gradually, with wind speed at 80-90 kmph off north Tamil Nadu–south Andhra Pradesh coasts over west central & adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal from midnight onwards.

As the sea will be rough, fishermen have been advised to not venture in from 12 November. The fishermen, who were in deep sea, have been advised to return by November 12, the officials said.

As for Chennai, the sky will be cloudy and some areas will get mild showers for the next two days. While the maximum temperature will be 32 degree Celsius, the minimum temperature will be 24 degree Celsius.

Cyclone "Fani", May 2019


June 14, 2023: The Indian Express


Almost 100 people were killed when the strongest cyclone to hit India in five years, named Fani, made landfall in the eastern state of Odisha. Authorities said many more would have died if 1.2 million people had not been evacuated before the cyclone struck.


May 3, 2019: The Times of India

Cyclone Fani crosses Odisha coast, weather across Asian subcontinent affected: Key points

  • Cyclone Fani crossed the Odisha coast near Puri by Friday evening and by midnight to Saturday early morning the storm is likely to enter West Bengal with a wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph. The storm would further weaken by afternoon or evening on Sunday and move to Bangladesh with a wind speed of 60-70 kmph. The cyclone is also affecting weather conditions of neighboring countries.
  • Equipment at Bhubaneswar airport have been significantly damaged but flight operations are expected to begin by 1 pm Saturday.
  • To assess the impact of cyclone Fani in Odisha, an aerial survey was conducted by the Naval Dornier Aircraft. The aerial survey observed extensive devastation to vegetation in many places around Puri, read a statement.
  • While Fani is expected to enter West Bengal with a wind speed of 90-100 kmph gusting to 115 kmph by Friday midnight or early Saturday, the intense rainfall and winds have partly destroyed nearly 50 houses in East Midnapore, West Bengal.
  • The Assam government has sounded an alert in all districts of the state following a warning that Cyclone Fani will lash Assam and other parts of the northeastern region for two days starting Saturday early hours.

  • One man died of a heart attack in one of several thousand shelters set up in Odisha, while another was killed by a falling tree on Friday, authorities said. Media reports put the death toll at up to six, but officials could not confirm this.
  • The cyclone caused extensive damage to AIIMS Bhubaneswar with storm uprooting several overhead water tanks, part of the roof and several electricity poles in the campus. However, all patients, staff and students were reported safe.
  • A baby was born in an Odisha railway hospital as the extremely severe storm wreaked its havoc. The newborn has been named after the storm- Fani by the 32-year old mother. Both were reported to be in good health.
  • Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured all possible help to the state governments affected by the cyclone. He announced that more than Rs 1,000 crore was released to concerned governments yesterday in advance. The PM while addressing an election rally in Rajashtan's Karauli further assured the affected people that nation and Centre was with them.
  • Telecom operator Vodafone Idea said it has initiated contingency measures, including activating emergency helpline number and free SMS, for its customers in Odisha.
  • The cyclonic system, whose eye is around 28 km wide, is moving at around 30 kmph. But within the system, the winds are reaching speeds of up to 175 kilometers per hour that may go up to 200 kmph.
  • More than 200 trains have been cancelled and operations at Paradip, Gopalpur and Dhamra ports stood closed since Thursday.
  • All educational institutions, commercial establishments, shops and offices were closed on Friday morning along with restricted movement of vehicles.
  • The government has set up 4,852 cyclone and flood shelters, where evacuees have been provided with cooked food.
  • As many as 604 women, who are at advanced stages of pregnancy were shifted to maternal care centres. The health department formed 302 rapid response teams.

Impact on Asian subcontinent

  • The storm has impacted the weather across the Asian subcontinent. Dust storms were forecast in the desert state of Rajasthan bordering Pakistan, heat waves in the coastal state of Maharashtra on the Arabian Sea, heavy rain in the northeastern states bordering China and snowfall in the Himalayas.
  • Bangladesh government has evacuated over 400,000 people, who reside along the coast and taken to cyclone shelters before Fani hits the low-lying country. A woman was killed by a tree, and 14 villages were inundated as flood dams broke due to a tidal surge.
  • About 20 tents at Everest's Camp 2, at 6,400 metres (21,000 feet), were affected. With the spring climbing season looming, several teams have postponed acclimatisation on Everest fearing the bad weather.
  • The weather department in Sri Lanka has not predicted extensive damage but heavy rainfall is predicted over Sabaragamuwa, Central, Southern and Western provinces in the coming days. The general public, naval and fishing communities have been asked to be cautious.
  • The Meteorological Forecast Department (MFD) of Nepal issued an alert on Friday, warning its people to take extra caution as the peripheral effects of cyclone Fani is expected to last till May 6. The Himalayan Region has chances of moderate and heavy snowfall that might start from Friday and last till Saturday.

Impact on Lok Sabha elections

  • The Election Commission of India had lifted the model code of conduct from 11 districts to facilitate rescue and relief measures.
  • The EC had also approved shifting of the polled EVMs of four assembly constituencies in Gajapati and Jagatsinghpur districts to safer places.

Early warning, well-planned response limit toll to 6

Vishwa Mohan & Rajani Yadav, May 4, 2019: The Times of India

Cyclone Fani flattened roadside shops in puri on 3 May 2019 morning
From: Vishwa Mohan & Rajani Yadav, May 4, 2019: The Times of India

Coastal Odisha faced the wrath of “extremely severe” cyclonic storm ‘Fani’, but India Meteorological Department’s improved warning system, successful evacuation of lakhs of people, better Centre-state coordination and the highest ever deployment by NDRF limited casualties. Government authorities confirmed six deaths, though news agencies reported eight.

Areas in Fani’s path were battered. There was extensive damage to kuccha houses in Puri, 160 persons were admitted to hospital for treatment, the residence of the SP and DM were badly damaged and there was a serious disruption of power supply. However, IMD’s new regional hurricane model helped avert a higher toll and showed how accuracy in tracking and forecasting landfall has progressed since the 1999 super cyclone that killed close to 10,000 people.

Almost 12 lakh evacuated in last 3 days

After success in responding to the more recent Phailin (October 2013) and Hudhud (October 2014) cyclones, central agencies and state governments were able to manage a massive evacuation. Repeated warnings reduced casualties at sea and infrastructure by way of storm bunkers was available, particularly in states like Odisha and Andhra Pradesh that are seen to be more vulnerable. Local disaster management authorities in Odisha and the NDRF were on their toes ahead of Fani’s landfall. The NDRF, in fact, made its highest ever deployment by putting 65 teams (one team consists of 45 personnel) on the ground with 38 in Odisha. Over 11.5 lakh people were evacuated in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal in the past three days. Additional teams for road clearance, law and order and dry food have been rushed. “Fani is very likely to emerge into Gangetic West Bengal as a severe cyclonic storm with wind speed of 90-100 kmph, by early Saturday morning,” IMD said.

India wins praise from UN, international media

Vishwa Mohan, May 4, 2019: The Times of India

Cyclone 'Fani': UN agency praises India’s efforts to minimise loss of life

NEW DELHI: Hours after the ‘extremely severe’ cyclonic storm ‘Fani’ crossed the coastal Odisha near Puri, a United Nations (UN) agency on Saturday took note of the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) “almost pinpoint accuracy” of early warnings that helped the local authorities in minimising loss of life in the state and appreciated India's ‘zero casualty approach’ to manage extreme weather events. India’s successful efforts in handling the disaster will be discussed at a global platform when countries assemble in Geneva, Switzerland during May 13-17 to deliberate on best practices of disaster risk reduction.

“India's zero casualty approach to manage extreme weather events is a major contribution to the implementation of the Sendai Framework (an agreement to reduce disaster risk) and the reduction of loss of life from such events,” tweeted Mami Mizutori, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, while referring to efforts made by authorities in India in the context of the cyclone ‘Fani’.

The UN agency, in fact, pointed out how advisories and alerts on the cyclone ‘Fani’, disseminated by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and local authorities in Odisha days before the landfall, minimised loss of life and injury.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, referred by the special representative in her tweet, is a voluntary and non-binding agreement - adopted in Sendai, Japan, on March 18, 2015 - which aims to achieve substantial reduction of disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods and health in countries across the globe over the next 15 years.

Mizutori, head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), said she was looking forward to hear more about the cyclone at the session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction (GP2019) that will take place in Geneva from May 13 to May 17. The Geneva session will be an important opportunity for the international community to boost the implementation of the Sendai Framework and related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda, as well as commitments of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Highlighting the “zero-casualty cyclone preparedness policy” of India, Denis McClean, a spokesperson for the UNISDR, said, “The almost pinpoint accuracy of the early warnings from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) had enabled the authorities to conduct a well-targeted evacuation plan, which had involved moving more than one million people into storm shelters”.

The UN agency, in fact, took note of how the local authorities in Odisha accommodated evacuees in over 4,000 shelters, including 880 specially designed to withstand cyclones.

India had got similar appreciation from the UN agency for disaster reduction in the events of cyclone 'Hudhud' in October, 2014. The agency had then also recalled the country’s efforts for minimising casualties from the cyclone Phailin that hit India in October, 2013.

Union ministry of earth sciences’ secretary Madhavan Rajeevan, who congratulated IMD chief K J Ramesh for the national weather forecast agency’s accurate prediction of track and landfall of the cyclone Fani, told TOI on Friday that the result was the best example of how investments in science & technology could help a developing country in saving lives. He also spoke about the ongoing efforts to further improvise the early warning systems in the country.

Cyclone ‘Fani’ on Saturday weakened into a depression and moved towards Bangladesh after causing heavy rains on its path in West Bengal. The Centre, meanwhile, reviewed rescue and relief measures in the affected areas of Odisha, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh with the states and central ministries in the aftermath of the storm.

The Odisha government informed that the extensive damage to telecommunication and power infrastructure had been caused in Puri, Bhubaneswar and other areas. West Bengal, on the other hand, reported mild impact of the cyclone while Andhra Pradesh reported some damage to crops and roads in Srikakulam district.

“No damages to ports and refinery installations were reported. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has moved 16 additional teams (one team consists of 45 personnel) for rescue and relief work in Odisha and has removed fallen trees and other obstacles on most of the roads,” said an official statement.

It said the health ministry was moving teams of public health experts to assist the state government in preventing outbreak of any epidemic.

How Isro satellites helped save lives

U Tejonmayam, May 5, 2019: The Times of India

How Isro satellites tracked Fani, saved many lives

Update: This story had earlier used an agency photo which inadvertently stated that it is of Bhubaneshwar airport. TOI regrets the error. CHENNAI: As meteorologists observed a trough of low in the southern Indian Ocean more than a week ago, five Indian satellites kept a constant eye on the system as it brewed into cyclone Fani.

As it developed into an " extremely severe cyclone + ", the satellites launched by Isro sent data every 15 minutes to the ground station, helping track and forecast its movement and save hundreds of lives.

According to IMD, data from satellites Insat-3D, Insat-3DR, Scatsat-1, Oceansat-2 and Megha Tropiques was used to study the intensity, location and cloud cover around Fani. There was a cloud cover around the eye of the storm up to 1000km radius, though the rain clouds were only up to a radius of 100 to 200km. The rest were at a height of around 10,000feet.

"Satellites play a critical role in forecasting, particularly during cyclones, helping us describe the initial parameters fed into the weather models, closer to the actual atmospheric conditions. This helps us better our forecast," said IMD director general KJ Ramesh.

With IMD able to accurately forecast the exact location where the cyclone was to make landfall, officials in Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal were able to evacuate more than 11.5 lakh people to safety. One of the main payloads from the satellites used to mark the eye of Fani was the scatterometer onboard Scatsat-1, a polar orbiting miniature satellite, and Oceansat-2, sending data about ocean surface, wind speed and wind direction.

How IMD tracked cyclone 'Fani'

May 5, 2019: The Times of India

From its formation to landfall, how IMD tracked cyclone 'Fani'

NEW DELHI: Thirteen days before cyclone 'Fani' hit the Odisha coast + , the IMD had an indication that the low pressure in the Bay of Bengal and the Equatorial Indian Ocean could balloon into a massive storm and started preparing for the onslaught, the weatherman said.

On April 21, based on data from various sources, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast that conditions were conducive for formation of a low-pressure area in the Equatorial Indian Ocean and south Bay of Bengal. A low-pressure area is the initial stage of the formation of a cyclone.

Armed with data from different institutes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), the meteorologists deliberated on how low pressure could pan out to be.

The IMD and other institutes of the Ministry of Earth Sciences ran data through 10 specialised weather models.

"We realised all the models suggested that it was going to turn into a cyclone. So, from April 25 we started issuing special bulletins," IMD's additional director general (services) Mritunjay Mohapatra told PTI.

Mohapatra, a veteran in tracking cyclones, played a critical role in tracking Fani's progress and accurately predicting its path.

Elaborating on the formation stage of cyclone 'Fani', he said help from other institutes of the MoES played a crucial role in predicting the development of the cyclone.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT), Chennai has over 20 buoys in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea that collected data on rainfall, temperatures below the sea and above, wind speed, Mohaptara said.

Different satellites provided data and images on clouds in oceanic area for monitoring low pressure systems, said IMD's Director General K J Ramesh.

Satellite data was also used in running the models.

"There are island observatories that fed us with data," Mohapatra said.

Ramesh said data was processed under different weather models by the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune and National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF), Noida. These two institutes have two supercomputers that process data.

The data was further processed by the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), Hyderabad that gave predictions on the extent, depth and duration of the inundations in the low-lying areas due to the cyclone, Ramesh said.

A similar model is run by Indian Institute of Technology Delhi to help the IMD with information on inundation.

The IMD also used its radars at Chennai, Karikal, Machilipatnam, Visakhapatnam, Gopalpur, Paradip, Kolkata, Agartala to the fullest.

"Twelve hours before the landfall, we kept sending updates on locations to concerned states every half hour using our radars, besides releasing hourly bulletins," Ramesh said.

'Fani' intensified into a cyclone on April 27. It became a 'severe cyclonic storm' + on April 29 and into a 'very severe cyclone' on April 30. A day later, it took the from of an 'extremely severe cyclone' and slammed into the Odisha coast on May 3 with a speed gusting to 175 kilometres per hour.

The IMD also earned praised from different quarters of the world for its predictions.

Fani more dangerous than assumed

Ashok Pradhan, May 11, 2019: The Times of India

Devastation caused by Cyclone Fani.
From: Ashok Pradhan, May 11, 2019: The Times of India

Puri: As Cyclone Fani ripped through Puri on May 3, P Chittama found herself locked out of the bathroom that her family was huddled in. The asbestos roof in her house in Penthakata soon gave way to the strong wind and a large piece hit Chittama on the leg. Bloody and barely able to walk, the 40-year-old somehow managed to drag herself to the bathroom which provided safe shelter due to its concrete roof. Hours later, the storm subsided and Chittama was taken to a hospital where doctors told her she was lucky to have escaped with only a fracture. It will, however, take a month for Chittama to be able to walk and much longer than that for her family to rebuild their damaged fishing boat and go back to the sea.

As the accolades the Naveen Patnaik government earned for its timely evacuation of 14 lakh people die down and officials begin taking stock of the devastation, grim realities are emerging. Fortyone people have died and over 1.5 crore have been affected in 14 districts. Large parts of state capital Bhubaneswar and the entire Puri district remain without electricity and the distribution of drinking water and food supplies is erratic, forcing people to resort to attacking and stealing from relief vans in some cases. Five lakh houses and 6,700 hospital buildings have been damaged while 34 lakh livestock have perished. The total loss in financial terms will run into at least Rs 50,000 crore, government estimates suggest.

Experts said that the ecological, financial and infrastructural damage caused by Fani is much larger than anticipated. Sarat Chandra Sahu, former director of Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar, said that the widespread destruction, particularly in Bhubaneswar, which was at least 50 km from Puri where the cyclone made landfall, was unexpected. Sahu said that it was high wind speeds of 200 kmph that allowed the cyclone to wreak havoc at this scale. Lake Chilka and Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary, two of Odisha’s ecological hotspots, have been hit hard. According to a government report released on Thursday, Chilka, Asia’s biggest brackish water lake, is likely to become more saline due to increased inflow of sea water. The heightened salinity will adversely affect marine life. In Balukhand-Konark wildlife sanctuary on the Puri-Konark marine drive, millions of trees have been uprooted.

Special relief commissioner (SRC), Odisha, Bishnupada Sethi admitted that it might be several years before the state can get back on its feet. “It might take up to a decade,” said Sethi, adding, “The priority is to get people’s lives back on track. The complete damage assessment will take time as communication is yet to be restored in many parts.”

The government is now struggling with the mammoth task of repairing nearly 80,000 km of low tension power lines and 64,000 damaged distribution transformers. Efforts are on to revive the nerve centres of Odisha -- Cuttack, Puri and Bhubaneswar. Officials said that electricity will be restored in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar by next week but it would take up to a month to restore power supply to the entire Puri district.

The railway station in Bhubaneswar, one of the few areas in the city with electricity, is witnessing an unusual rush. Desperate to connect with the world and get news of loved ones, people are queuing up at the station to charge their cellphones. And because the charging points are limited, many are now bringing extension cords even as they spend nights on the platform to await their turn. It helps that packaged drinking water is also available at the station. Information and public relation secretary Sanjay Singh said that water supply in Puri, Cuttack and Bhubaneswar had been restored. Residents, though, maintain that this is pointless as the water being supplied is undrinkable.

In Puri, countless people have been rendered homeless in villages; food is scarce and ATMs are without money. Odisha DGP Rajendra Prasad Sharma said that police are now escorting relief vans after some people tried to snatch material from a truck in Satyabadi in Puri. On Thursday, only 20 out of 273 ATMs and 60 bank branches out of 239 were functioning in Puri. Bang in poll season, the safety of EVMs has posed another challenge. Police are using diesel-run generators to provide power to a strong room in Puri where EVMs have been kept after people cast their votes on April 23.

For those still coming to terms with the loss of loved ones and their homes, Fani has evoked memories of the super cyclone of 1999.

“Though the deaths were greatly fewer, as far as damage to infrastructure goes, Fani has caused perhaps as much destruction as the super cyclone which had killed over 10,000 people,” said Sanjeeb Guru, an architect.

Cyclone Tauktae: 2021


June 14, 2023: The Indian Express


More than 100 people – most of them in Gujarat – were killed and scores more reported missing when an ‘extremely severe cyclone’, named Tauktae, hit the western state, packing gusts of up to 210 km per hour.

Loss caused

Partha Sinha, May 20, 2021: The Times of India

Cyclone Tauktae is estimated to have caused a loss of about Rs 15,000 crore, that’s slightly over $2 billion with the agriculture sector being the worst hit and Gujarat and Diu the most affected regions due to the strong wind and the resultant flooding. Infrastructure (mainly the ports along the western coast) and utilities (electricity and telecom) sectors have also been hit severely leading to such losses, a report by RMSI, a global consultancy firm working in the field of natural calamities, climate change etc., said in a report.

Among the states, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra have been partially affected by the cyclone which made a landfall along the Gujarat and Diu coastlines on Monday late evening. There are expectations that the frequency of such devastating cyclones could increase in near future.

According to Pushpendra Johari, Senior VP, sustainability, RMSI, Tauktae was a unique cyclone that impacted all the states and UTs along India’s western coast.

Recent studies on climate change have highlighted the rising sea surface temperature in the Arabian Sea which would increase the frequency of cyclones in these regions, Johari said.

RMSI estimates that out of the total Rs 15,000-crore loss, at least half is expected in Gujarat and Daman & Diu while the other four western coastal states incurring the balance half of the loss.

On the sectoral front, about “25-40% losses are expected from the agriculture sector from all the above impacted states. Around 15%-20% of the total was from the transportation sector, primarily ports, and a similar loss share from the utility sector, primarily power and telecom,” the report noted.

The heaviest brunt was witnessed in Junagadh and Amreli districts in Gujarat and Diu. According to RMSI, flooding of 0.5m to 1m is expected around Porbandar, from 1m to 3.5m around Una, Bhavnagar, Rajula, Tajala and Diu and some parts of Surat city.

Cyclone Yaas, 2021

Loss caused

May 27, 2021: The Times of India

Cyclone Yaas left a trail of destruction in north Odisha on Wednesday, killing at least two persons, uprooting hundreds of trees, inundating several lowlying seaside villages, flattening kutcha houses while making landfall 20km south of Balasore.

In West Bengal, more than three lakh homes were destroyed and one crore people affected as sea water along the coast and rivers started swelling and breached embankments, a little after Cyclone Yaas made landfall in Odisha. The only life lost was that of a fisherman, who had ventured out to sea, ignoring warnings. East and West Midnapore and North and South 24 Parganas were the worst hit.

Bengal’s rescue operation

May 27, 2021: The Times of India

Bengal registered its biggest-ever evacuation operation during a natural calamity, with more than 15 lakh people in coastal areas moved to 14,000 relief camps in the 72 hours between Monday and Wednesday. It was largely due to this effort that the loss of life could be minimised (there was just one life lost), even though Cyclone Yaas wreaked havoc on homes and farmlands, said government sources.

By the time Yaas hit land on Wednesday morning near Dhamra port in Odisha at 9.30am, as many as 15lakh people had been moved out from vulnerable areas to safer places, chief minister Mamata Banerjee said.

During last year’s Amphan, when 86 people had died and 70% of the state’s population was directly affected by the storm, around 10 lakh people had been evacuated. The evacuation figure for Yaas surpassed the number on Tuesday itself. Several lakh people were also evacuated from flood-prone and inundated areas on Wednesday as well. “We had evacuated all those living in the coastal belts, but there were some places, away from the cyclonic formation, where villagers were not expecting their homes to be flooded. Here, the spring tide deluged their homes and farmlands. Work is on to rescue them as well,” said Banerjee.

New moms thank timely shift to Odisha hospitals

Minati Singha, May 27, 2021: The Times of India


Scores of pregnant women in Odisha, with due date prior to June 1, were reluctant to go to hospital amid the Covid pandemic and with Cyclone Yaas approaching. After much persuasion by the administration, over 4,000 pregnant women were shifted to hospitals of whom 774 gave birth in the last two days in 10 coastal districts affected by the cyclone. Now, all of them are thankful to the administration for shifting them to hospitals in the nick of time, reports Minati Singha.

Croc breeding centre in Sunderbans damaged

Krishnendu Mukherjee, May 27, 2021: The Times of India


Ripples of Yaas were felt on the Sunderbans, with both its wildlife and forest camps bearing the brunt of the cyclone that made a landfall on the Odisha coast on Wednesday, reports Krishnendu Mukherjee. Since it coincided with high tide, it led to major damage to Bhagabatpur crocodile breeding and Jharkhali rescue centres, and inundation of at least 18 forest camps and three range offices. Five spotted deer and a wild boar were rescued by villagers and forest staff.

Cyclone Mocha, 2023

Impact on Bangladesh and Myanmar

May 14, 2023: The Hindu

Extremely severe cyclone Mocha started hitting the coastlines of Bangladesh and Myanmar on Sunday after intensifying into the equivalent of a category-five storm.

The powerful cyclone is bringing heavy rain and winds of up to 195 kph, which could see dangerous flooding in areas around the Bay of Bengal.

Storm surges of up to four metres could swamp villages in low-lying areas. There are fears it may hit the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, where over one million displaced Muslim Rohingya refugees live in makeshift camps.

According to the latest bulletin by the Met Office, the cyclone is 250 kilometres south of Cox’s Bazar and is now crossing the coast.

The forecast was it will make landfall with heavy rains and winds on Sunday afternoon. The low-lying areas of Cox’s Bazar and Chattogram are likely to be inundated by wind-driven tidal surges eight to 12 feet above normal.

Tidal surges of five to seven feet above normal are also likely to deluge low-lying parts of Feni, Noakhali, Laxmpur, Chandpur, and Bhola, reported.

Meteorologists previously warned Mocha could be the most powerful storm seen in Bangladesh in nearly two decades.

The category 4 cyclone has intensified into the equivalent of a category-five storm.

Around 500,000 people have been evacuated to safer areas.

As part of its preparation, Bangladesh shut nearby airports, ordered fisherfolks to suspend their work and set up 1,500 shelters as people from vulnerable areas were moved to safer spots.

Officials said the government, with the support of U.N. agencies and aid workers, has kept tonnes of dry food and dozens of ambulances ready with mobile medical teams in sprawling camps of the Rohingyas who fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar.

Residents and officials fear the Mocha-triggered tidal surges could cause massive deluges and landslides, endangering the lives of those residing in hillside camps, where mudslides hit regularly.

The World Meteorological Organisation, a United Nations agency, has warned the super cyclone will cause heavy rain, flooding, and landslides around the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar.

However, Mohammad Azizur Rahman, director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department, said the risk for Bangladesh has reduced.

He said areas in Myanmar and its southern region are expected to be at greater risk.

“The risk has reduced a lot in our Bangladesh,” he was quoted as saying by the Daily Star newspaper.

Cyclone Biparjoy, 2023

Nimesh Khakhariya, June 17, 2023: The Times of India

Cyclone Biparjoy, the impact
From: Nimesh Khakhariya, June 17, 2023: The Times of India

Jakhau(Kutch): Cyclone Biparjoy moved out of a battered north Gujarat on Friday evening, leaving vast swathes in Kutch and Saurashtra flooded, roads barely visible under thousands of uprooted trees, thatched houses flattened, farms marooned and most areas without power. Many roads remain unapproachable due to sludge and it may take several days before the rain stops and the situation approaches normalcy.

By Friday night, the cyclone remnant lay over south Pakistan and was set to enter Rajasthan, where 5,000 people were shifted to safety in Barmer district in view of downpours.

In Kutch, the NDRF, SDRF and police mounted gruelling efforts to rescue people amid ravaging winds and rains. Around 80,000 electricity poles had collapsed while 33,000 hectares of farms were damaged.

Two deaths were reported, although the government claimed there were zero fatalities due to timely evacuations. A 40-year-old woman, Rajshree Kasundra, died near MaliyaMiyana in Morbi district when atin shed fell on her. In Vadodara, one person died when a wall collapsed in strong winds.



History: 1940s, 2021

Richa Pinto & Sharmila Ganesan, May 18, 2021: The Times of India

Severe storms and Mumbai: as in 2021 May
From: Richa Pinto & Sharmila Ganesan, May 18, 2021: The Times of India

Back in November 1940, when cyclones didn’t have names, the Arabian Sea threw an unprecedented, untimely night-long tantrum that cost Mumbai more than Rs 25 lakh. In the aftermath, bodies floated at Apollo Bunder, Colaba, Mazgaon docks and other sea faces even as piles of planks, broken masts and other pieces of timber turned the harbour from Colaba to Sewri into one long graveyard of ships.

The next one in 1948, again in November, left wreckage in its wake from cargoes carried by around 300 “country craft”, littering fishing villages in Versova, Danda and Thana too. About 100 lives, chiefly crew and owners of ships and boats, were feared lost and a 1,000-ton Norwegian steamer called ‘Marly’ — which left Bombay for the Malabar coast — vanished. According to TOI reports, seven people were killed Mumbai on the day and a hundred injured.

Tauktae is probably the closest Mumbai has come since to experiencing a severe storm, with wind speeds of up to 108 kmph near the Colaba seafront. Tauktae, experts say, was at its most intense at its closest to the Mumbai coast (distance of 120 km) before it propelled away towards Gujarat. An extreme weather event of this nature, so close to the city, portends a warning about the likely consequences of ignoring climate change, say experts.

This is the third year in a row that cyclones in the Arabian Sea have menaced the west coast. Nisarga in 2020 even made landfall near Alibaug in Maharashtra while in 2019 Vayu moved parallel to the shoreline.

Experts said the recent frequency of cyclones was a clear sign of temperatures rising in the Arabian Sea. These low-pressure systems are formed when warm, moist air rises up from the sea surface. Historically, waters off the western coast have experienced fewer storms than the Bay of Bengal, and typically weaker. “The rapid warming of the Arabian Sea is leading to not just more cyclones but also more extreme rain events... Due to these warm ocean conditions, it is seen that the cyclone intensifies from a weak cyclone to an extremely severe cyclone rapidly. This rapid intensification also means we need to ensure our forecasting is accurate,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), Pune.

Akshay Deoras, an independent meteorologist and a PhD student at the department of meteorology, University of Reading in UK, said a cyclone is not much of a menace if it dissipates over the sea itself. “However, if it comes so close to the coast like cyclone Tauktae did and Nisarga last year which made a landfall here, then it’s a massive threat. Also with it intensifying so rapidly, the authorities find very little time to evacuate those living along the coast. This is now seen to be happening frequently with the storms in the Arabian Sea,” said Deoras. With little control over the discharge of greenhouse gases and the consequent rise in temperatures, warming in the Arabian Sea is certainly a trend that’s likely to written about in these columns again and again.

Till 2020, a clean record

Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, Mumbai has never faced a cyclone in recorded history, June 3, 2020: The Times of India

If a cyclone makes landfall in Mumbai, it will be one for the record books. The city has never been hit by one in documented history — even a story about an 1882 Bombay cyclone that was supposed to have killed 100,000 was shown by scientist Adam Sobel to be an urban legend.

The reason for Mumbai’s low risk lies in the weather dynamics of the Arabian Sea. On an average, the sea sees just one or two cyclonic formations every year. When they do form, they tend to go west towards Oman and the Gulf of Aden. Or they head north towards Gujarat.

This typical north/west trajectory springs from a few factors. Easterlies nudge the system away from the northwestern coast, says Sridhar Balasubramanian, professor of mechanical engineering at IIT Bombay.

A pre-monsoon formation of an area of high pressure, known as a sub-tropical ridge, along the western coast also creates a barrier. Even when a strong cyclone forms, it can weaken as it approaches land.

More recently, storm systems, including the current one, have been forming close to Kerala. Because of the friction provided by land, they do not intensify as strongly. Still, a 2015 study from Princeton found a rise in cyclonic activity in the fast-warming Arabian Sea.

Last year saw five of eight Indian Ocean cyclones forming in the Arabian Sea — the most since 1902. For scientist Sobel, even a small risk is worth preparing for. Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean had never turned towards New York — until Hurricane Sandy did in 2012 lashing the city with a six-foot storm surge. A surge could be devastating for a Mumbai already still struggling with a pandemic.


December cyclones, 1891-2020

Ashok Pradhan, Dec 4, 2021: The Times of India

BHUBANESHWAR: If Cyclone Jawad hits Odisha coast as predicted, it will be the first one to do so to the state in December in India Meteorological Department (IMD)’s nearly 130 years of recorded history.

The coastal state has been hit by more than 100 cyclones since 1891, when IMD started compiling cyclone data. “However, none of the cyclones hit the state in December in around 130 years,” said Umashankar Dash, an IMDscientist.

The east coast has witnessed 14 cyclones in December since 1891, hitting other Indian states or Bangladesh. Of them, only five December cyclones had some impact on Odisha, mainly in terms of rainfall. Most recently, Cyclone Phethai had made landfall in East Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh on December 17, 2018. It caused some rain in southern Odisha districts. IMD-Bhubaneswar director HR Biswas said Odisha is generally hit by cyclones in May-June.

See also

Andaman And Nicobar Islands: Natural calamities

Cyclonic winds, cyclones: South Asia

Monsoons: India

Storms (dust-, hail-, rain-, thunder-): India

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