“More cyclones in Arabian Sea in recent years”

However, this has not measurably increased threat to western coast, Minister tells RS

Published - December 09, 2021 10:17 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Wind speeds touch 220 kmph in very severe cyclones.

Wind speeds touch 220 kmph in very severe cyclones.

The frequency of “very severe cyclonic storms” has increased in recent years over the Arabian Sea. However, this has not measurably increased the threat to India's western coast, as most of these cyclones were making landfall in Oman and Yemen, Science Minister, Jitender Singh, told Rajya Sabha on Thursday.

The number of cyclones and stations reporting very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall events have increased in recent years and an analysis of past data of cyclones over North Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea) during the period from 1891 to 2020 indicates that the frequency of “very severe cyclonic storms” has increased in the last few years over the Arabian Sea.

A very severe cyclone is defined as one with windspeeds touching 220 kmph. It is the fourth highest category of cyclones, just below “Extremely Severe Cyclones”.

Coastal vulnerability

However, the Eastern Coast remained far more vulnerable to “Extremely Severe Cyclones” than the Western coast, but there was nevertheless “no significant trend” in the frequency of Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storms (ESCS).

“The increase in frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea has not posed a corresponding increase in the coastal vulnerability along the west coast since most of such cyclones forming over the Arabian Sea were making landfall over the coasts of Oman, Yemen etc and hence the threat to Gujarat & Maharashtra coasts remains same,” Mr. Singh said in his written statement.

On an average, 60%-80% of the cyclones developing over the North Indian Ocean (NIO), comprising Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, made landfall causing loss of life and property. Low lying coastal belts of West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and Puducherry were more prone to the impact of these systems.

Deaths, loss of property

The number of deaths due to cyclones has decreased significantly, as a result of the improvement in the early warning skill of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) under the Ministry of Earth Sciences (MoES), and effective mitigation measures and response actions by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA). Still there is huge loss to property, his statement added.

Cyclone Jawad was the most recent storm to hit India's Eastern coast as it approached Odisha and weakened into a depression on December 5. It did not cause harm, but it was unusual for a cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in December.

Climate scientists have previously pointed out that among the most visible signs of climate change is the rising ocean temperatures that is fomenting cyclonic activity.

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