- According to meteorologists, the cyclone has already broken many records in terms of intensity.
- "We are expecting the biggest threat from the cyclone Ampan in the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday."
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting with officials from the Home Ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority of India.
The Indian Meteorological Department said that the Cyclone Amphan, which formed in the Bay of Bengal, turned into a ‘super cyclone’ of the highest intensity in the first part of Monday. The cyclone is expected to hit the coast from Digha, in West Bengal, India, on Wednesday afternoon to evening, along the coast of Hatia Island in Bangladesh.
According to meteorologists, the cyclone has already broken many records in terms of intensity. Prime Minister Narendra Modi held an emergency meeting with officials from the Home Ministry and the National Disaster Management Authority of India on Monday afternoon to review preparations for Amphan.
The Indian Meteorological Department tweeted this morning that Cyclone Amphan, which formed in the South Bay, had turned into an “extremely severe” cyclone by 7:30 am today. Just hours later, they retweeted and announced that by 11:30 AM., it had turned into a super cyclone, or cyclone of the highest magnitude.
Where and When to Hit?
Mrityunjay Mohapatra, Director General of the Indian Meteorological Department in Delhi, said:
“We are expecting the biggest threat from the cyclone Ampan in the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, May 20. It will hit the coast sometime between afternoon and evening. Heavy rains will begin in the coastal areas from Tuesday, May 19. It will be accompanied by strong winds from the morning of Wednesday, May 20. The storm is now heading north-northeast. On Wednesday, it will cross the coast through an area between Digha in West Bengal and Hatia in Bangladesh. The wind speed is expected to be 155 to 165 kilometers per hour when it hits the shore.”
At least 36 contingents of India’s National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in West Bengal and Orissa to deal with the storm, the force chief said. Cyclone Fani struck Orissa just over a year ago, but this time the state is expected to survive Amphan.
However, there is little to be optimistic about the vast coastal areas of West Bengal and Bangladesh in India, largely due to the intensity of Amphan.
Terror of Amphan?
“This is the first super cyclone to hit the Bay of Bengal in the pre-monsoon season of this century,” said Mahesh Palawat, head of Skymet, India’s private weather forecasting agency.
“In June 2006, a super cyclone ‘Gonu’ was formed in the Arabian Sea – which later moved to Oman. Amphan has already ‘packed’ with wind speeds of more than 150 kilometers per hour. In just twenty-four hours, it has gone from a hurricane to a hurricane, that’s a record.”
The intensity of the cyclone will decrease slightly as it gets closer to the coast, but there is no chance to reduce its destructive power even after that, reports Mr. Palawat. “Dry air from the ground weakens the system a bit – that’s what will happen to this amp,” he said. “But even after that, it’s a deadly cyclone – with the potential to wreak havoc and damage. So people have to be careful all over the coast.”
As Prime Minister Modi sat in a high-level emergency meeting on Monday afternoon to deal with the super cyclone, the state government in West Bengal has also started sending disaster response teams to cyclone centers in coastal areas. However, West Bengal Home Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay said the teams would carry out relief and rescue operations in the event of the COVID-19 epidemic on the condition of social distance.