The storm system in the Bay of Bengal, Amphan , developed into a super cyclone on Monday and is expected to make landfall along the West Bengal-Bangladesh coast on Wednesday, according to the India Meteorological Department.
Currently, Amphan is located about 730 km south of Paradip in Odisha , 890 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal and 1,010 km south-southwest of Khepupara in Bangladesh.
Windspeeds are expected to hit 240 kmph and extensive damage along the coast is expected in Odisha and West Bengal. Cyclone Phailin in 2013 and the super cyclone of 1999 — both of which hit coastal Odisha — have been the most powerful cyclones in the Bay of Bengal in the past two decades in terms of windspeed.
By the time it makes landfall in West Bengal, Amphan is expected to tone down into a category 4 Extremely Severe Cyclonic (ESC) storm with wind speed of 165-175 kmph and gusting to 195 kmph.
Last year, Fani, which was an ESC made landfall in Odisha and ravaged the State, claiming at least 40 lives.
Amphan is expected to bring “heavy to extremely heavy rainfall” over Gangetic West Bengal and heavy to very heavy rainfall over north coastal Odisha on May 19 and 20.
Storm surge of about 4-6 meters above astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of South & North 24 Parganas and about 3-4 meters over the low lying areas of East Medinipur district of West Bengal during the time of landfall, said an evening update from the Press Information Bureau.
“Extensive damage to all types of kutcha houses, some damage to old badly-managed pucca structures. Potential threat from flying objects, extensive uprooting of communication and power poles, Disruption of rail/road link, extensive damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards,” are what the disaster management agencies warn on the impact of the storm.
The Odisha government has deployed units of the National Disaster Response Force and the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force to north-coastal districts for carrying out rescue operation. Six districts — Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara, Jajpur and Jagatsinghpur — are likely to be severely affected
The evacuation process has been initiated in low-lying areas along coast.
District authorities have started evacuation from the low lying coastal areas in West Bengal as well. “We now have three types of crisis — COVID, the cyclone, and migrants returning home,” Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said. She however, maintained that necessary precautions like social distancing will be maintained during the evacuation process.
Fishing had already been suspended because of lockdown. Police officials have started announcements in the low lying coastal areas of the State, particularly the low lying Sunderbans and areas closer to Digha in Purba Medinipur asking people to leave mud houses and move to safer places.
Ahead of the monsoon's arrival in Kerala, the month of May typically sees intense tropical storm activity in the Bay of Bengal.
From 1965 to 2017, the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea collectively registered 46 ‘severe cyclonic storms’. More than half of them occurred between October and December. Seven of them occurred in May and only two (in 1966 and 1976) were recorded in April, according to data from the India Meteorological Department’s cyclone statistics unit. Before Fani, only one of them (in 1966) had actually made landfall over India.