Climate Change

Cyclone Nivar isn't over but is Tamil Nadu in for another one?

The state was last hit by back-to-back cyclones, Nada and Vardah, in December 2016

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Thursday 26 November 2020
The Chennai coast on the morning of November 26, 2020. Photo: @Manav_SS_Gupta / Twitter

The threat of another storm is looming over the Tamil Nadu coast even as Cyclone Nivar has not dissipated completely.

Data from the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting has shown the formation of a low-pressure area in the south Andaman Sea November 29, 2020.

Further prediction derived from the same data has shown the low-pressure area’s further intensification into a depression and movement in a west north westward direction towards north Sri Lanka and south Tamil Nadu.

Back-to-back cyclones have occurred before in Tamil Nadu. In early December 2016, the state was hit by two cyclones — Nada and Vardah — within days of each other.

Cyclone Nada had de-intensified to a depression before landfall. However, Cyclone Vardah, a very severe cyclone clocking wind speeds of 130 kilometres per hour (kmph), had caused significant damage, especially in Chennai.

The city had received 382 millimetres of absolute rainfall, causing flooding in many areas. Twenty-four people had lost their lives in Tamil Nadu.

Historically, November has always been a month for the formation of cyclones, especially in the Bay of Bengal. In the last 129 years, 123 cyclones have formed in the Bay of Bengal in the month of November out of a total 524 cyclones — a staggering 23.5 percent.

If a storm does form, people will have less than a week to prepare for more rainfall, flooding and a possible storm surge. This is when Cyclone Nivar could still cause heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has generated a red alert for the coastal Andhra Pradesh and the Rayalaseema regions for November 26 and a yellow alert for November 27.

Cyclone Nivar is currently moving in a northwestward direction towards north Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh from its point of landfall near the Union territory of Puducherry in the early morning hours of November 26, according to the IMD.

The current wind speeds of 65-75 kmph, with gusts of up to 85 kmph might not be as deadly but the storm might still carry a lot of rainfall that could cause flooding.

At the moment of landfall, Cyclone Nivar immediately decreased in intensity to a severe cyclone from a very severe cyclone, causing heavy rainfall along the coastal areas and even inland.

Three people in Tamil Nadu have lost their lives due to the cyclone’s impact. The most vulnerable sections are bearing the brunt of Nivar’s impact.

Many trees and electric poles have been uprooted and houses have collapsed according to media reports. But there is no consolidated assessment data on the damage caused from government authorities as yet.

Nivar further reduced its strength to a cyclone by 8:30 am November 26. But it will remain a cyclone till the evening of the same day. After that, it will de-intensify to a deep depression and a depression by the night of the same day, causing rainfall all the while.

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.