Climate Change

Cyclone Mocha may bring storm surge to Myanmar

Pressure system in Bay of Bengal may develop into a cyclonic storm by May 10 morning 

By Himanshu Nitnaware
Published: Tuesday 09 May 2023
A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal. Source:
A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal. Source: A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal. Source:

A low-pressure area formed on May 8 over the southeast Bay of Bengal adjoining the Andamans may develop into a deep depression on May 9 evening.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), in a press release, continued to maintain the system formed over the Bay of Bengal would evolve into a cyclonic storm, ‘Mocha’. 

The system will likely develop into a cyclonic storm by the morning of May 10. However, the tightening and recurving direction of the cyclone is likely to bring a storm surge in Myanmar.

Storm surge is an abnormal rise in seawater levels during a storm. The rise is compared to the height of water rising above the estimated astronomical tide. 

Read more: Mocha: Summer cyclones not new; Fani, Amphan were May storms too

“As per the prediction models, the system is moving northwest and then heading east. The tightening of the structure shows that it can bring lots of storm surge and inundation into Myanmar,” Raghu Murtugudde, a climate scientist at the University of Maryland and Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, told Down To Earth.

Murtugudde said it would be interesting to see how strong the system will get before landfall as the northwest-to-east path gives it time to grow and intensify.

“Rain will be heavy, of course, but the winds will sweep in the ocean waters onto land, which is called storm surge. However, it is unlikely but still early to ascertain if it will be as strong as Nargis,” he added.

On May 2, 2008, Cyclone Nargis crossed Myanmar over two days. The cyclone is estimated to have left more than 100,000 deaths. 

Meanwhile, the IMD has recommended all fishing, shipping and tourism activities in Andaman and Nicobar Islands be suspended until May 12. 

Read more: Mocha: Cyclone intensification may not be very high since it will be formed in heart of the Bay, say experts

Strong winds are expected to increase from 45 kilometres per hour to 75 kmph over the coming days over the region. Heavy to very heavy rainfall is also expected at isolated places on May 12. 

In the southeast Bay of Bengal, winds are expected to reach 70 kmph, while in the east central part of Bay of Bengal, gale winds may touch up to 100 kmph by May 12.

For east central Bay of Bengal, “Gale wind speed reaching 80-100 kmph gusting to 120 kmph on May 11 becoming 130-140 kmph gusting to 150 kmph during 12th and 13th May,” the statement said. 

The strong wind conditions gusting between 110 kmph and 120 kmph are likely to hit the West Central Bay of Bengal on May 12 and 13.

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