Phailin, a fierce cyclone bearing down towards India’s eastern coast, will be very severe for the first six hours after it makes a landfall between 6-8 pm in Odisha’s Gopalpur on Saturday, said the Met department.
According to India’s ocean weather-classification norms, a cyclone is said to “very severe” when it packs wind speeds of 210-220km an hour, Met department director-general LS Rathore told Hindustan Times. Such winds shears can uproot trees and power poles as well as dislodge framed houses. The cyclone is hurtling down at an average speed of 15 km an hour, although it will quicken and slow along its trajectory.
Phailin will be the most severe cyclone India is set to face, since a “super cyclone” wrecked Odisha in 1999, leaving an estimated 15,000 dead.
For the next six hours after landfall, Phailin’s (pronounced pee-lin) intensity will drop marginally to become a cyclonic storm of up to 210km an hour, when it would still be destructive, before tapering off to a “depression” in the next 12 hours, which means very heavy rainfall. In a span of 24 hours, therefore, the weather glitch could leave a trail of destruction of lives and property. The twister is estimated to be between 100-120km wide.
In Odisha and Andhra Pradesh, where its main force will be felt, authorities continued to evacuate large numbers of people. Four districts of Odisha – Jagatsingpur, Ganjam, Khurda and Puri – will be hit the hardest. In neighbouring Andhra Pradesh, Srikakulam district will be within the maximum-impact zone.
“It is a very big system, with several layers of sub-systems in the entire cyclone,” Rathore said. A cyclone is said to make a landfall when its fast-moving “eye”, or the central point of the twisting storm system,
aligns over the coastline so that half of the system is on land and the remaining half on the sea, the Bay of Bengal.
Phailin will wreck wide swathes of a heavily populated rice-growing belt. Its force will create strong walls of sea water which will pound the shoreline, travelling up to 600 metre inwards. Waves could rise up to 3.5 metre, Rathore said.
Beyond 24 hours, the system will turn into a spell of very wet weather across much of east India, stretching up to eastern parts of UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. Many places are likely to witness flooding.