Climate Change

India Climate 2019: Arabian Sea saw 400% more cyclones

In 2019, the monsoon season was the warmest in 118 years

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 07 January 2020
Destruction after Cyclone Fani. Photo: Adithyan PC

The India Meteorological Department on January 6, 2020 released its much-awaited report on India’s climate in 2019.

As expected, the climate crisis wreaked havoc. The number of cyclones in Arabian Sea stood out in particular.

Down To Earth has regularly reported on how the year that just passed was tumultuous in term of extreme and contrasting weather events.

Five of the eight cyclones — 60 per cent of the total — that affected India in 2019 were on the Arabian Sea. Normally, the sea on India’s west undergoes only one cyclone.  

“(This) equals the previous record of 1902 for the highest frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea,” said the India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its Statement on Climate of India During 2019.

“This year also witnessed development of more intense cyclones over the Arabian Sea,” the met department added.

Out of five systems formed in the Arabian Sea, there have been two very severe cyclonic storms, one extremely severe cyclonic storm and one super cyclonic storm, according to the IMD report on climate in 2019.

The year was also exceptional in term of the number of cyclones hitting India. The country — combining the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea — suffered ten cyclones previously only in 1893, 1926, 1930 and 1976.

The Bay of Bengal — usually the more cyclone-prone coast of India — was relatively subdued in 2019 with three instead of four cyclones that occur there annually on an average.

Last year was also the 11th to be recorded the warmest in the new millennium.

“The 2019 annual mean land surface air temperature for the country was +0.36°C above the 1981-2010 period average, thus making the year 2019 as the seventh warmest year on record since 1901,” the IMD report stated.

Since 2000, India has recorded 11 years as its “warmest” years on record. During the last decade (2009-2019), three consecutive years were recorded as the warmest — 2015, 2016 and 2017. The last two decades — 2001-2010 and 2010-2019 — have been recorded the warmest decades ever.

Overall, 2019 was warmer cutting across seasons. “The country averaged seasonal mean temperatures were also above the average during all the four seasons with the monsoon season (Jun-Sep, with anomaly +0.58°C) being the warmest since 1901,” IMD said.

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