Natural Disasters

Andhra, Tamil Nadu set to be rocked by severe cyclone in next two days

The probable track of the cyclone will take it towards southern Andhra Pradesh and northern Tamil Nadu coasts where pre-cyclone preparations need to begin

 
By Akshit Sangomla
Last Updated: Friday 14 December 2018
The IMD predicts that the cyclone will gain further strength to transform into a severe cyclone by the evening of December 15. Credit: Getty Images
The IMD predicts that the cyclone will gain further strength to transform into a severe cyclone by the evening of December 15. Credit: Getty Images The IMD predicts that the cyclone will gain further strength to transform into a severe cyclone by the evening of December 15. Credit: Getty Images

Andhra Pradesh is set to witness some stormy weather this week. A low pressure area that formed in south-east Bay of Bengal on December 11 strengthened into a depression on the morning of December 13, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The latest cyclone bulletin of the IMD, published at 12 noon on December 13, predicts that the storm system might get further intensified into a deep depression in the next 12 hours and a cyclone by Friday morning.

The IMD also predicts that the cyclone will gain further strength to transform into a severe cyclone by the evening of December 15. By December 16, wind speeds as high 120 Km/hr are expected.

The probable track of the cyclone will take it towards southern Andhra Pradesh and northern Tamil Nadu coasts where pre-cyclone preparations need to begin. The Global Forecasting System, which is based on data from the United States Weather Service, predicts the storm to cross the Andhra coast somewhere south of Machilipatnam. The intensity of the storm when it makes landfall will depend on its behaviour and track in the coming few days. If the last few cyclones are to be taken into account then the people of Andhra Pradesh should be prepared for any eventuality.

This is the 14th depression and seventh cyclone to form in the Indian Ocean region (including depressions over land) this year. The last time there were seven cyclones in the region was back in 1985, shows data from the IMD. The last three cyclones have all shown anomalous behaviour. Very severe cyclones Titli and Luban that formed on either side of the Indian sub continent in October were declared as ‘rarest of rare’ occurrences by the IMD.

It had then said that the movement of both these storms was unique. While Titli changed its direction and moved towards the northeast after making a landfall, Luban, too, kept going in different directions over the nine days that it travelled through the south-eastern Arabian Sea towards Yemen and Oman on the Gulf coast and then made landfall on October 13.

Even cyclone Gaja lingered on longer than usual before it made landfall in Tamil Nadu in the early hours of November 16 and remained a severe cyclone, even though the IMD had predicted that it will decrease in intensity.

Such change in character of cyclones has in fact made them difficult to predict. Just before cyclone Ockhi hit the coast of Tamil Nadu last year it became much more intense than predicted by the IMD. According to K J Ramesh, the director general of IMD, the cyclone intensified because of warmer than usual sea surface water—one of the impacts of global warming.

But IMD is already at work to remedy this situation. It is continuously revising its forecasting models and procedures to integrate more parameters that can affect the creation and propagation of severe weather systems such as cyclones. It is now using an ocean-atmosphere coupled framework for forecasting cyclones and extreme rainfall events.

This would mean that apart from atmospheric parameters, ocean surface warming will also be taken into account in the forecasting process. Cyclones Titli, Luban and Gaja were the first cyclones to be forecasted using this model. The current storm brewing in the Bay of Bengal presents the IMD with another opportunity to get it right.

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