A depression in east central Bay of Bengal is very likely to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm with a possible wind speed of 155 kmph to 165 kmph and make landfall on May 26 evening between Paradip in Odisha and Sagar island in West Bengal, the Met department said on Sunday.
Mrutyunjay Mohapatra DGM, IMD, said, “It is highly damaging wind speed, you can compare the damage with last Cyclone Tauktae and Cyclone Amphan.” Amphan had hit the Sunderbans in south Bengal on May 20 last year with a wind speed of 155–165 km per hour and gusting up to 185 km per hour. It had killed 98 people while pummeling through six districts. Cyclone Tauktae made its landfall east of Diu on May 17 with wind speed ranging between 160–170 km/hr gusting to 185 km/hr. Tauktae, characterised as an extremely severe cyclonic storm, left behind a trail of destruction along the coast of Gujarat, claiming several lives, uprooting electric poles, trees and damaging thousands of houses and roads.
The system, which lays 670 km south-southeast of Digha in West Bengal and 590 km east-southeast of Paradip, will cause heavy to very heavy rain in the coastal and interior districts of the two states as it progresses, said Sanjib Bandopadhyay, the deputy director of the Regional Met Centre in Kolkata.
The depression will intensify into a cyclonic storm by May 24 morning and move in a north-northwesterly direction. “In subsequent 24 hours, it will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm and reach north Bay of Bengal near West Bengal-Odisha coasts on May 26 morning,” Bandopadhyay said.
“It will cross into land on May 26 evening between Paradip and Sagar island as a very severe cyclonic storm,” he said, adding that the exact landfall point will be calculated after the system turns into a cyclone. In West Bengal, the coastal districts of East and West Midnapore, South and North 24 Parganas, along with Howrah and Hooghly will experience light to moderate rainfall in most places with heavy to very heavy downpour at one or two places from May 25.
Earlier, in the day Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for timely evacuation of those involved in off-shore activities as he chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness of states and central government agencies to deal with the situation arising out of cyclone Yaas. He asked officials to work in close coordination with states to ensure safe evacuation of people from high-risk areas, and to ensure that time duration of outages of power supply and communication network are minimum and restored swiftly, a PMO statement said.
Modi also asked officials to ensure proper coordination and planning with state governments to ensure that no disruption is caused to COVID-19 treatment and vaccination in hospitals.
On May 26, the spread and intensity of rain will increase with the possibility of “extremely heavy rainfall” in Jhargram, East and West Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and Kolkata, Bandopadhyay said. “Heavy to very heavy rainfall will occur in Nadia, East and West Bardhaman, Bankura, Purulia and Birbhum,” he said.
Heavy rain will also occur in Murshidabad, Malda and Dakshin Dinajpur districts of the state, he said. Bandopadhyay said that heavy rain is likely in the sub-Himalayan and western districts of the state on May 27.
Odisha would experience light to moderate rainfall at many places with heavy rainfall in the north coastal districts from May 25, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. Heavy to very heavy rains are likely to occur at a few places in the state with extremely heavy rainfall in districts such as Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Mayurbhanj on May 26, it said.
Squally wind speed reaching 40 to 50 km per hour gusting to 60 kmph is very likely to prevail over north Bay of Bengal and along and off Odisha, West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts from May 24 evening, he said. The wind speed will gradually increase thereafter, reaching 90 to 100 kmph gusting to 110 kmph in the afternoon of May 26, Bandyopadhyay said.
“It will increase to 155 to 165 kmph when it crosses the coast on May 26 evening,” the deputy director said. Light to moderate rainfall will be experienced in most parts of Andaman and Nicobar Island, with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on May 24, the IMD said.
Tidal waves of 1-2 meter height are very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Andaman and Nicobar island on May 24, it said. Sea conditions will be high to very high in the north Bay of Bengal along and off West Bengal-Odisha-Bangladesh coasts from May 24 to May 26 and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.
The tri-services and the Indian Coast Guard have taken several steps to mitigate the impact of cyclone Yaas, the defence ministry said. “The Indian Navy, fresh from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) and rescue operations on the western coast, has moved 10 HADR pallets to Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, while five HADR pallets are ready at Port Blair,” the ministry said in a statement on Sunday. It said four diving and 10 flood relief columns of the Indian Navy have been pre-positioned at Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Chilika for rendering assistance to the civil administration at short notice.
Moreover, seven flood relief teams and two diving teams are ready at different locations in Andaman and Nicobar Islands to deal with any eventuality, the defence ministry said. Naval aircraft and helicopters in Vishakhapatnam and Port Blair are ready to undertake search and rescue missions, the statement said.
“Eight flood relief columns and three engineer task forces of the Indian Army are ready for immediate deployment on requisition by the civil administration,” it stated. Till now, the Indian Air Force has airlifted 950 National Disaster Response Force personnel and 70 tonnes of load from Jamnagar, Varanasi, Patna and Arakonnam to Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Port Blair, the ministry said.
Sixteen transport aircraft and 26 helicopters of the IAF are on standby for immediate deployment, it said. The armed forces are in constant touch with the civil administration of the affected states, the ministry said.
The armed forces’ teams are also aware of the need to keep road and rail links open to ensure uninterrupted supply of life saving oxygen and drugs required for treatment at COVID-19 hospitals, it noted. As part of these preventive measures, the Indian Coast Guard has ensured safe return of 254 boats which were out in the Bay of Bengal and alerted various merchant vessels in transit and 77 vessels at anchorage, the ministry said.
Thirty-one disaster relief teams with inflatable boats, life buoys and lifejackets are on standby all along the eastern coast and Andaman and Nicobar islands, it said. “The Indian Coast Guard efforts towards preventive measures translated into a massive deployment of 16 ships and three aircraft per day on an average across the deep waters of Bay of Bengal,” the ministry said.
The state governments on the eastern coast as well as the Centre are preparing for Yaas that will bring winds with a speed ranging 155-165 kmph and gusting to 185 kmph. Tauktae had made a landfall on May 17 night near Una town in Gir Somnath, Gujarat, and wreaked havoc for around 28 hours before it weakened into a depression. At least 79 people have lost their lives in incidents related to the cyclone in different parts of Gujarat.