As extremely severe cyclone ‘Amphan’ entered the Indian shores in West Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday, lakhs of people have been evacuated from vulnerable areas and shifted to safety. Amphan—the second super cyclone to have had formed over the Bay of Bengal in two decades—made a landfall between Digha, some 180 km south of Kolkata in West Bengal, and Hatiya islands in Bangladesh during the afternoon to evening hours of Wednesday, May 20, with the maximum sustained wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 190 kmph.
As cyclone Amphan, which is pronounced as Um-pun, rumbled towards the Indian coastline, we have tried to answer some of your most frequently asked questions.
So, what is the present status of cyclonic storm ‘Amphan’?
As per the latest update issued by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), an extremely severe cyclone packing winds of up to 190 kmph roared into West Bengal Wednesday, dumping heavy rain and leaving a trail of destruction that left at least two people dead. After making landfall at 2.30 pm between Digha in West Bengal and and Hatiya island in Bangladesh, cyclone Amphan cut a swathe through the coastal areas, flattening fragile dwellings, uprooting trees and electric poles.
How devastating was the first super cyclone in Bay of Bengal in 1999?
In 1999, Odisha was ravaged by a super cyclone that left around 10,000 people dead along its trail of destruction. One of the powerful cyclones of the 20th century, the 1999 super cyclone had also damaged nearly 20 lakh hours, killed about two lakh livestock and affected about 2.5 to 3 million people, leaving large tracts of agricultural land unfit for cultivation for a long time due to salinity.
What are the weather forecasts for Odisha and West Bengal?
As per the IMD, intense rainfall was recorded in several areas of Puri, Khurda, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Ganjam, Ganjam, Bhadrak and Balasore districts since Tuesday. The rains and high-velocity winds will ebb away in Odisha by late Wednesday night by when the cyclone will likely have caused massive damage to standing crops, plantations and infrastructure, IMD DG Dr M Mohapatra said. He said tidal surge of up to five metres could occur in North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore districts that could submerge areas in a radius of 15 km. The strong winds and rain could continue till tomorrow in West Bengal, he said.
Rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places and extremely heavy falls at isolated places likely over Gangetic West Bengal (east and west Medinipur, south and north 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata and adjoining districts) on May 20 and isolated heavy rain over interior districts on May 21.
Which other states are likely to witness a change in its weather pattern?
The IMD has forecast that Sikkim will witness light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls over most of the districts of Sikkim on May 21. The turbulence will likely extend to Assam and Meghalaya, triggering heavy to very heavy rain on Thursday.
Fishermen should avoid these sea routes on these days
A total suspension of fishing operations has been advised till May 20. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into North Bay of Bengal and adjoining central Bay of Bengal during May 19 to 20. Additionally, fishermen are advised against venturing into north Bay of Bengal along and off north Odisha, West Bengal and adjoining Bangladesh coasts till May 20.
A storm surge of about 4-5 metres above astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of south and north 24 Parganas and about 3-4 meters over the low lying areas of East Medinipur district of West Bengal during the time of landfall.
What all damage is expected in Odisha and Bengal?
In Bengal districts such as East Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata, extensive damage is expected to all types of kutcha houses and some damage to old badly managed pucca structure. Also, there is a potential threat from flying objects. Extensive uprooting of communication and power poles is also likely along with disruption of rail/road at several places. Aside from these, extensive damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards and blowing down of palm and coconut trees, uprooting of large bushy trees are expected.
In Odisha districts of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Balasore, Jajpur and Mayurbhanj, total destruction of thatched houses and extensive damage to kutcha house are expected. While major damage to kutcha and pucca roads are likely, minor disruption of railways, overhead power lines and signalling systems are expected. Additionally, widespread damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards, falling of green coconuts and tearing of palm fronds and blowing down of bushy trees like mango are expected.
What is the likely post-landfall outlook?
Post landfall, the system is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, across Gangetic West Bengal and Bangladesh and weaken gradually. It is very likely to maintain the intensity of cyclonic storm till the morning of May 21 and thereafter will weaken into a deep depression over Bangladesh.