Climate Change

Cyclone Asani may not make landfall at all

Odisha to witness maximum impact; West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh likely to have rains   

By Jayanta Basu
Published: Sunday 08 May 2022
The mock drill at Ramnagar in West Bengal. Photo: Jayanta Basu

Asani, the first cyclone generated in the Bay of Bengal in 2022, may not turn out to be a major threat as it is likely to lose significant strength before coming close to the coast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said May 8.

Asani is also unlikely to make landfall as it is slated to recurve almost parallel to land from May 11 onwards, IMD officials have said unofficially.

Odisha is likely to witness the maximum impact of the cyclone among Indian states as Asani’s path is predicted to come closest to land in the state. Odisha will receive significant rain from May 10-12. West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh are also set to receive rain during the period. Bangladesh is also likely to receive some rain from May 11 onwards.

IMD has, however, put an embargo on fisheries. Tourism in the coastal areas is also expected to take a beating due to Asani.

The latest IMD bulletin issued at 5.30 pm May 8, based on data received till 2.30 pm, said:

The cyclonic storm ‘Asani’… is very likely to move north-westwards and intensify into a Severe Cyclonic Storm over southeast Bay of Bengal during the next six hours. It is very likely to continue to move north-westwards till May 10 evening and reach … Bay of Bengal off north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coasts. Thereafter, it is very likely to recurve north-north-eastwards and move towards northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast.

The forecast said the Andaman and Nicobar Islands will witness a storm with a wind speed of around 60 km per hour May 8.

It added that winds at speeds of 40-50 kmph, with a gusting of about 60 km are likely to pound the north Andhra Pradesh and Odisha coast from May 10-12.

“West Bengal is likely to have rain mostly between May 10 to 12 and some wind around 40 to 50 km per hour,” GK Das, head of IMD Kolkata told this reporter May 8 evening. Das further said there was a minimum possibility of either storm surges or heavy wind.

The IMD prediction also shows that the severe cyclonic storm that will develop by late May 8 evening at sea, is likely to start losing steam and turn into a cyclonic storm and then a deep depression by next day.

Wind speed in case of a severe cyclone remains in the range of 90-115 km per hour. But it gets lowered to 63-90 km per hour in case of cyclonic storms and around 50-62 km in case of deep depressions.

No landfall likely

On May 6, the IMD showed that till May 10, the track of Asani was leading to the coastal area between Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. But recent predictions indicated a change of course, apparently under the influence of westerly winds according to weather experts.

IMD has not spoken officially about the landfall. But its senior scientists have indicated that the landfall seems to be unlikely as of now.

“You will find that after the recurve. So far, the prediction made till May 12 shows that the cyclone path is likely to move parallel to the land and a landfall seems unlikely,” a senior climatologist from IMD, said.

“The prediction shows that by May 12, the system is likely to be converted into a deep depression,” the expert said.  

Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist from Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology explained why such variability is observed in cyclone paths.

“The sea surface temperature in the Bay of Bengal is warm during April-May and the wind conditions are optimal, both favouring the formation of cyclones … the tracks of these cyclones are generally regulated by upper level winds, which display high variability. This is the reason why sometimes, the track of the cyclone changes,” Koll said.  

“Though it is taking a recurve towards West Bengal, as of now, it seems that the possibility of major damage in the state is less. This is because the cyclone system is likely to lose strength as multiple factors including dry wind coming from land, not so high sea surface temperature and others are expected to make an impact,” Das said.

“However, the possibility of damage on the Bengal coast seems higher now, compared to May 6’s prediction due to recurve,” an expert said.

“The recurve is apparently influenced by westerly upwards wind which operates above the cyclone system, apparently 10 to 12 km above the land,” he added.

The West Bengal government, particularly the coastal districts as well the city of Kolkata, has however started to make detailed preparations in case the cyclone makes an impact on the state.

“We are getting ready at the district and sub-divisional level; the chief secretary and chief minister are also taking regular stock of the situation,” a senior official, said.

“On May 7, we had the first-of-its-kind mock drill to get ready in case Asani turns out to be a real threat,” Bipratim Basak, the block development official of Ramnagar II, a highly vulnerable area within the Purba Medinipur district of West Bengal, said.

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.