Maharashtra may have to brave another spell of rain, barely a week after the first one, due to a second cyclone that is likely to approach Gujarat and also affect the state. The Indian Express explains what exactly is brewing in the Arabian Sea.
What is different about the two recently-formed cyclones over the Arabian Sea?
For the first time since 1965, two cyclonic storms have prevailed simultaneously — Cyclone Kyarr and Cyclone Maha — over the Arabian Sea. Cyclone Kyarr was only the second super cyclone to be formed after Cyclone Gonu in 2007. The occurrence of cyclones is more frequent and common in the Bay of Bengal compared to the Arabian Sea. However, in recent years, the latter has also seen its share of cyclones. In 2019, four cyclones have formed over the Arabian Sea. This growing cyclogenesis and formation of intense cyclones in the Arabian Sea could be linked to global warming and is seen as an effect of climate change.
How did two severe cyclonic storms simultaneously develop over the Arabian Sea?
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Sea Surface Temperatures (SST), or simply, the temperature of sea water recorded at the surface, was higher than normal over the Arabian Sea since October, towards the culmination of the southwest monsoon season. Generally, such higher SSTs favour the formation of ocean systems like depression that can, over a short period of time, intensify into cyclones or super cyclones while at sea.
This year, the monsoon withdrawal lasted for only eight days and ended on October 16. But, by October 26, IMD declared the development of Cyclone Kyarr over the Arabian Sea. It rapidly intensified, raged on and survived till Saturday, when it finally weakened into a ‘well marked low pressure system’. But it didn’t make landfall over Oman as expected. Instead, its remnants led to Cyclone Maha over the Arabian Sea on October 31 which, by Saturday evening, was located at about 540 km away from Veraval, Gujarat.
Will Cyclone Maha affect the Indian mainland?
Cyclone Maha, which has formed close to Lakshadweep islands and Kerala in the Arabian Sea, initially moved westwards and later north-westwards. As on Saturday evening, the cyclone was located at a distance of 520 km away from Veraval and 540 km south of Diu in Gujarat. This cyclone is all set to intensify into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ by Sunday noon. According to the weather models, Cyclone Maha is most likely to recurve around and head north-eastwards towards south Gujarat and adjoining Maharashtra regions from November 5.
If this is realised, then there is a high possibility of heightened rainfall in the southern districts of Gujarat and northern districts of Maharashtra — Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Dhule, Palghar, Mumbai and even Pune — from November 5 to 8. In that case, Maharashtra could receive rainfall caused due to a second cyclonic system within a week’s span. Cyclone Kyarr had brought intense rain last weekend over Konkan and Madhya Maharashtra.
What are the present sea conditions over Bay of Bengal?
Cyclone Fani was the last to be formed over the Bay of Bengal in 2019, and it had caused massive destruction in Odisha during April and May this year. Currently, there is a cyclonic circulation lying over central Bay of Bengal that is slowly forming and, according to an IMD official, it is expected to intensify in the coming days and become a low-pressure system in the Andaman Sea between November 3 and 6. IMD assigns a name to a system only when it strengthens into a cyclone and later, traces its path or direction of movement along the sea or towards land.