Even as India is grappling with ever-surging cases of the novel coronavirus, the threat of a natural calamity looms large. Weather reports suggest that Cyclone Amphan, which has now turned into an “extremely severe storm”, may intensify further into a “super cyclonic storm”. Here is all you need to know about it:
Nature of the cyclone
Cyclone Amphan, pronounced as Um-Pun, is supposed to make landfall on the evening of May 20, 2020, between Sagar Islands of West Bengal and the Hatiya Islands of Bangladesh, as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD). It is set to become the second pre-monsoon cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal region in the past two years.
The occurrence is a rarity in itself, as the prevailing conditions during the pre-monsoon period are considered to be non-conducive to the formation of tropical cyclones. And this anomaly in the trends has not only been observed in the Indian Ocean region, but across the world.
The name Amphan for the cyclone was suggested by Thailand as per the World Meteorological Organisation naming guidelines. It will be the last name to be used from the original list of 64 cyclone name suggestions prepared in the year 2004 for storms that generate over the north Indian Ocean. The WMO mandates the 13 countries in the region to name all storms that originate in the ocean basin.
Extent of damage
IMD has warned that due to the high wind speed – pitched at around 155-165 kmph – extensive damage could be caused to mud structures and partial damage could be caused to pucca structures. The high-velocity winds may also end up uprooting or bending power and communication poles, disrupt railway services, overhead power lines and other signalling systems. The super cyclone is likely to wreak havoc on standing crops, orchards and plantations as well.
Seventeen teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in the states of Odisha and West Bengal already. Seven teams will be stationed in North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, West Midnapore, East Midnapore, Howrah and Hooghly districts of West Bengal, while 10 will be deployed across Puri, Balasore, Jagatsinghpur, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Mayurbhanj districts of Odisha.
The other districts in the state that are on cyclone alert are Ganjam, Gajapati, Balasore, Cuttack, Khurda and Nayagarh.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has set a zero-casualty target before the administration. It has predicted that nearly seven lakh people residing in 649 villages along Odisha’s coastline would be displaced by Cyclone Amphan. The Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRF) and fire service personnel are already on alert. The authorities have also requested a temporary suspension of ‘Shramik Special’ trains for the movement of migrant workers, as the train will pass through areas that have been put on alert.
Meanwhile, Bengal has urged fishermen not to venture into the north of the Bay of Bengal along and off the West Bengal-Odisha coasts between May 18 and 21. Wind speed along and off the coastline is expected to pick pace from May 19 itself, before gradually increasing to around 85 kmph from May 20 morning.
The Indian Coast Guard unit has braced itself for maritime search and rescue operations as well.