Natural Disasters

‘Severe’ cyclonic storm to hit Tamil Nadu on April 30

The weather agency has put the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on red alert (highest) on April 30 and May 1

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Thursday 25 April 2019
Representative Photo: Getty Images

A cyclonic storm is set to hit the Tamil Nadu coast by April 30. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is tracking a low pressure area over the equatorial Indian Ocean and southeast Bay of Bengal. It predicts that the low pressure area will intensify into a depression by the night of April 26.

Subsequently, it will further strengthen into a cyclonic storm by the night of April 28, all the while moving towards the eastern Sri Lanka coast. From there it will move towards Tamil Nadu.

The United States (US) Global Forecasting System (GFS) data shows that the wind speeds can reach a high of 153 kilometre/hour close to the eye of the storm, making it a very severe cyclonic storm.

In its cyclone alert issued on April 25, IMD says that the wind speeds will peak at around 115 km/hr making it a severe cyclone. The weather agency has put the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on red alert (highest) on April 30 and May 1. Kerala and south coastal Andhra Pradesh have been put on yellow alert for April 29 and 30.

It remains to be seen if the massive storm maintains its intensity when it makes landfall along the Tamil Nadu coast. Last year, in November, Cyclone Gaja had killed almost 50 people in the state and destroyed crops across 88,000 hectares of land.

Only seven cyclones have formed in the North Indian Ocean (NIO) region in the month of April in the last 43 years, according to data from the IMD. NIO includes the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea and the land masses of the Indian sub continent.

One April cyclone each was formed in 1976, 1991, 1994, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2017 — all of them in the Bay of Bengal. Out of these, the first five cyclones were severe.

“The formation of the cyclone in April is not unusual,” KJ Ramesh, director general of IMD told Down to Earth. “In fact it is the second usual cyclone period over the Bay of Bengal.”

“The cyclone is too early to have any impact on the coming of the monsoon winds into the Indian Ocean,” said DS Pai, senior scientist at IMD Pune.

On the other end of the Indian Ocean, Mozambique is bracing up for cyclone Kenneth after Cyclone Idai devastated the country in March, killing over a 1,000 people and destroying infrastructure across the country as well as Zimbabwe.

One reason for the formation of these cyclones could be the unusually warm seas and oceans this March. Globally, the month of March was the second hottest ever recorded since observations began 140 years ago, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“Record hot temperatures in the first few months were felt across parts of Australia, northern Alaska, northwestern Canada, southern Brazil, the Barents Sea, the Tasman and East China seas, and in scattered areas across all the southern oceans,” said NOAA in a press release.

The increasing ocean temperatures gave rise to two cyclonic storms in March. While Idai had an impact on the South East African coast, tropical storm Iba was the first to form in the South Atlantic Basin since 2010.

Apart from this there were also unprecedented rainfall events in Iran, Brazil and US and heat wave conditions in Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Europe, South Asia and Alaska.

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