Climate Change

Cyclone Asani not to hit West Bengal, confirms IMD

Asani was not even responsible for the deluge in the state May 9, the weather agency added

By Jayanta Basu
Published: Monday 09 May 2022

Cyclone Asani is not going to hit West Bengal and is only likely to trigger a spell of rain over the next three days that will majorly impact Bangladesh and Myanmar, senior experts from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said May 9, 2022.

The deluge in Kolkata and its vicinity May 9 — Kolkata’s core received around 60 millimetres rain within a few hours — was not due to Asani though it might have played an enhancing role, an expert added.   

The IMD prediction further said Asani will lose strength from May 10 and will turn into a depression when its track comes closer to West Bengal around May 12.  

The IMD is yet to make any prediction about Asani’s landfall. However, senior officials reiterated that the cyclone is unlikely to make landfall as it is predicted to recurve almost parallel to land from May 11 onwards, though part of the track may touch the coast near Visakhapatnam.

“The severe cyclonic storm ‘Asani’ … moved nearly north-westwards with a speed of 16 kmph during the past six hours and lay … 450 km southeast of Visakhapatnam and 610 km south of Puri. It is very likely to move north-westwards till May 10 and reach … the Bay of Bengal off the north Andhra Pradesh & Odisha coasts. Thereafter, it is very likely to recurve north north-eastwards and move towards northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha,” an IMD report released at 3.15 pm and based on data generated till 11.30 am May 9, said.

“It is likely to weaken gradually into a cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours,” the IMD report added.

“Cyclone Asani is not going to hit West Bengal. As a matter of fact, it is likely to change into a depression when it will come closest to West Bengal,” Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director-general of IMD told this reporter May 9 evening.

“While officially we have said nothing about the landfall, it is quite clear that the cyclone path is likely to go virtually parallel to the coast from May 11 onwards and hence, landfall is unlikely,” another climatologist associated with IMD, said.

Mohapatra also reminded about the recurved cyclone path from May 11 onwards while being quizzed about the landfall.

“Yes, the recurve will be there but it is difficult to pinpoint now whether part of the system will touch the coast or not near Vishakhapatnam,” another expert said.  

Bengal bracing to face Asani

“West Bengal is most likely to receive rain between May 10 and May 12 and some wind around 40-50 km per hour,” GK Das, head of IMD Kolkata, said. The official further said there was a minimum possibility of either storm surges or heavy wind.

“The rain that Kolkata and its surroundings have been facing today, is due to thunderstorms and has not been caused by Asani, which is still about 800 km away from West Bengal,” Sanjib Banerjee, deputy director-general of IMD said May 9.

“If the rain was due to a cyclone, it would not have been so diverse as we have observed today,” Banerjee added.

Salt Lake and Alipore received 61 and 58 mm of rain while Dumdum received 23 mm and Diamond Harbour received 11 mm till 5.30 pm on May 9.    

“However, the moisture coming from the cyclone system may be playing an enhancing role in this thunderstorm,” Banerjee said.

Another scientist said it seemed that some clouds that had got detached from the outer band of the cyclone system of Asani, were affecting the region.

“Bangladesh and Myanmar are likely to face major impacts while the coastal areas of West Bengal will also be impacted,” Das said.  

The IMD prediction also shows that the severe cyclonic storm is likely to start losing its steam and turn into a cyclonic storm by May 10 and then into a deep depression by May 11 evening and finally to a depression on May 12. IMD stops issuing cyclone alerts when the depression stage arrives.

Asani’s wind speed while it is a severe cyclone, is likely to be in the range of 100 to 110 km per hour, with gusting up to 120 km per hour.

This will reduce to 80 to 90 km per hour, with surge up to 100 km in case of cyclonic storms and around 50 to 60 km in case of deep depressions and 40 to 50 km in case of depressions.  

The cyclone system is set to lose strength as multiple factors including dry wind coming from land, not so high sea surface temperature and others have been contributing, Das told this reporter.

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 chooses to make an impact on the state.

“We have got feedback from IMD that the cyclone may not be that dangerous but you never know when these cyclone systems change directions … hence the administration has been put on alert mainly in South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur; but also in Kolkata, Howrah, Hoogly, Nadia and part of Paschim Medinipur,” a senior disaster department official said on May 9 evening. 

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