State governments, NDMA, NDRF and defence forces are on high alert as extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan is barreling towards India’s coasts.
Extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan is barreling towards the Indian coast in Bay of Benga. Cyclone Amphan is likely to make landfall between West Bengal’s Digha, some 180 km from Kolkata, and Hatiya island in Bangladesh on Wednesday afternoon or evening. It will pack sustained wind speed of 155 to 165 kmph, gusting at 185 kmph.
According to the latest weather update at 11:30 pm on Tuesday, the cyclone was over Bay of Bengal 510 km off the Digha coast in West Bengal or 360 km away from Paradip coast in Odisha.
The two states, West Bengal and Odisha, have been put on red alert. Both West Bengal and Odisha have said that they have evacuated around three lakh people each from the coastal areas in the state.
SUPER CYCLONE DOWNGRADED TO EXTREMELY SEVERE CYCLONIC STORM
The Indian Metrological Department has said that Cyclone Amphan is likely to be the worst since 1999, in which over 9,000 people were killed in Odisha. But as the states embark on a massive evacuations drill, the cyclone has lost some of its strength.
Earlier, the Met department has downgraded Cyclone Amphan from super cyclone to extremely severe cyclonic storm.
However, it still packs enough force to pulverise coastal districts of Odisha and West Bengal.
The gale-force wind, blowing at a speed of 240 to 250 kmph and gusting to 275 kmph at one point, had lost intensity and was moving at a speed of 200 to 210 kmph, gusting to 230 kmph on Tuesday evening.
The weather department has said the storm could destroy standing crops, damage mud and thatch houses, and disrupt power and communication lines in coastal districts of the two eastern states.
The IMD has advised people to remain at home and warned against opening markets in and around affected districts on Wednesday.
Fisherman anchoring their boats in Hooghly river in West Bengal ahead on Cyclone Amphan
“Storm surge of 4 to 5 metres above astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of South and North 24 Parganas and about 3 to 4 metres over low lying areas of East Midnapore district of West Bengal during the time of landfall,” the weatherman has said. These districts had suffered the most during cyclone ‘Bulbul’ and ‘Fani’ last year.
IMD Director-General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said since the cyclone is gradually weakening, its impact is unlikely to be very severe in Odisha.
However, coastal districts like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore are likely to be battered by heavy rains and high-velocity winds from Tuesday evening, he said.
CYCLONE AMPHAN PROJECTED PATH AND LANDFALL
Cyclone Amphan is expected to make landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya Island in Bangladesh on Wednesday, May 20. The cyclone will likely cross the coast in the afternoon or evening as ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ with a maximum wind speed of 185 kmph.
Plotted using Google Maps below is the excepted path of Cyclone Amphan over the next two days. The path has been plotted based on information released by the India Meteorological Department on Tuesday afternoon. It’s a rough estimate of Cyclone Amphan’s expected progress. The various pins on the map below offer an idea of the location of Cyclone Amphan at a particular point; tap on the pins to know more.
CYCLONE AMPHAN: KEY POINTS
What: A very severe cyclonic storm; the first ‘super cyclone’ over the Bay of Bengal since 1999 Odisha cyclone
When: Landfall expected on Wednesday afternoon-evening
Where: Cyclone will make landfall between Digha in West Bengal and Hatiya Island in Bangladesh
Weather: Heavy rainfall in parts of Odisha, West Bengal and the Northeast
Worst-affected regions: North and South 24 Parganas, East Midnapore, Sunderbans in West Bengal; Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Bhadrak and Balasore in Odisha
CYCLONE AMPHAN WEATHER ALERT
Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places is predicted in Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Keonjhargarh districts of north Odisha on May 20.
Coastal districts of Gangetic West Bengal (East Medinipur, South & North 24 Parganas) are likely to experience light to moderate rainfall at many places commencing from May 19 evening. Rainfall intensity is likely to increase gradually and become maximum on May 20. Rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places & extremely heavy falls at isolated places likely over Gangetic West Bengal (east and west Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli, Kolkata and adjoining districts) on May 20 and isolated heavy rain over interior districts on May 21.
Satellite image taken at 11:30 pm on Tuesday (IMD)
Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim
Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over Malda and Dinajpur districts on May 20 and over most of the districts of Sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim on May 21.
Assam & Meghalaya
Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over the western districts of Assam and Meghalaya on May 21.
WIND WARNING: WEST BENGAL & ODISHA
The wind speed will gradually increase becoming gale wind speed reaching 75 to 85 kmph gusting to 95 kmph from Wednesday morning along and off north Odisha coast and West Bengal coast. It will gradually increase thereafter becoming 100 to 110 kmph gusting to 125 kmph along and off the affected districts of North Odisha.
Gale wind speed reaching 155 to 165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph very likely along and off east Medinipur and North and South 24 Parganas districts and 110-120 kmph gusting to 130 kmph over Kolkata, Hoogli, Howrah and West Medinipur Districts of West Bengal during the time of landfall.
Squally wind speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph likely to prevail over Puri, Khordha, Cuttack, Jajpur districts of Odisha during May 20.
Deep-Sea area: Gale wind speed reaching 190-200 gusting to 220 kmph is prevailing over west-central and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal. Gale wind speed reaching 170-180 gusting to 200 kmph is likely to prevail over northern parts of central Bay of Bengal and adjoining North Bay of Bengal from the morning of 20th May. It will gradually decrease becoming 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph over the North Bay of Bengal during landfall.
Sea condition is phenomenal and is very likely to continue for next 12 hours over Westcentral Bay and adjoining northwest Bay of Bengal. It will become phenomenal over north Bay of Bengal and adjoining central Bay of Bengal from morning of May 20.
PREPARATIONS FOR CYCLONE AMPHAN
Forty-one teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), including seven reserves, have been deployed in the two states, its chief SN Pradhan said in New Delhi. Fifteen NDRF teams are deployed and five are in reserve in seven districts of Odisha, while 19 teams were actively deployed and two in reserve in six West Bengal districts, SN Pradhan said.
The authorities were mindful of the difficulty they could face in ensuring social distancing norms at shelters following a surge in Covid-19 cases over the last few days. Due to social-distancing protocols in the wake of coronavirus, the cyclone rescue centres having a capacity to hold about 1,000 people will have only 400-500 people, the NDRF chief said.
SN Pradhan said Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a meeting of the national crisis management committee (NCMC) on Tuesday to take stock of the situation. Union Home Minister Amit Shah also spoke to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and his West Bengal counterpart Mamata Banerjee to review the preparedness for the impending cyclone.
Mamata Banerjee said she will talk to the railways and ask it to not run Shramik Special trains to the state to bring back migrant labourers from Wednesday till Thursday morning as a precautionary measure.
Odisha is in a state of readiness to evacuate around 11 lakh people living in vulnerable areas, officials said. The process has already started and around one lakh people have been evacuated to safety.
Coastal districts of North and South 24 Parganas, and East Midnapore, including the ecologically fragile Sundarbans, in West Bengal face a serious threat of inundation and significant damage to life and property, officials said.
“The evacuees have been put up at cyclone shelters, schools and colleges. Our experience in tackling cyclone Fani and Bulbul last year will be put to good use,” the state’s Disaster Department Minister Javed Khan said. The government, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, has distributed more than two lakh masks among the evacuees, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) have been handed out to the State Disaster Relief Force (SDRF) personnel deployed in the vulnerable areas, a senior official said.
A defence official said in Kolkata that the Indian Navy has dispatched a diving team for providing assistance to the West Bengal government in rescue operations.