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Andaman area braces for heavy rainfall as Cyclone Asani nears

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Mar 22, 2022 02:05 AM IST

Asani has developed very early in the year, even before the typical cyclone season begins in April, climate scientists said.

Cyclone Asani is likely to skirt Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Monday night and might result in heavy rainfall and strong winds, the India Meteorological Department has said.

NDRF and police personnel at low lying areas of fishermen village, ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Asani, in Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Monday. (PTI)

It would then weaken to a deep depression and make landfall on the Myanmar coast around Thandwe in the early hours of Wednesday.

Asani has developed very early in the year, even before the typical cyclone season begins in April, climate scientists said.

On Monday afternoon, the deep depression over the north Andaman Sea and adjoining the southeast Bay of Bengal moved northwards and lay centered about 170km northeast of Port Blair, the capital of the Andaman Islands.

Sea surface temperature was around 29 to 30 degrees Celsius over the Andaman Sea, which is conducive to storm formation, according to the Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cyclones over the North Indian Ocean.

“The Bay of Bengal is one of the warmest seas in the world. During most of the time of the year, the sea surface temperatures are around 29 degrees. They can also rise to 30 degrees in pockets, as is the case now,” a government meteorologist said, requesting anonymity. “We were confident that this system would develop into a cyclone because all environmental factors are favouring intensification.”

“Climate change has increased the number and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea. We do not see such a trend in the Bay of Bengal,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune. “It is quite possible that the warm temperatures in the south bay are hosting a strong depression. However, this may not live long as a cyclone, since the ocean temperatures in the north bay are not exceptionally warm.”

Between 1891 and 2020, only eight cyclones have formed in March, two in the Arabian Sea and six in the Bay of Bengal, according to weather department data. Of the eight, six dissipated over sea, one crossed the Tamil Nadu coast as a cyclonic storm in 1926, and another made landfall in Sri Lanka in 1907, the data show.

Cyclones normally form during the pre-monsoon months of April and May over the north Indian Ocean, of which the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are parts.

“Climatologically, March is not cyclone season,” another Met Department official said, declining to be named. “The ocean is cooler in March and solar insolation is not very high.”

“Andamans and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal is shaped by limited resources, proximity to tectonic plate boundaries, sea level elevation, coastal perimeter and physical isolation from mainland. Coastal entities such as these need robust disaster preparedness and risk reduction policy and regulatory frameworks to address the threat of climate and weather-induced disasters. Timely evacuation of island-based populations with proper warning periods, sheltering in fortified structures and emergency communications is key to mitigation. Risk reduction rather than emergency response, integrating climate change DRR efforts, promoting local solutions such as community training, preserving knowledge and local practices of the communities, combining geospatial information with other data (population distribution, terrain, land cover, and predicted storm tracks) are a few lessons that can be picked up from small island developing states (SIDS), who have been at the forefront of the climate change fight.” – Dr Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS).

Light to moderate rainfall or thundershower is likely at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over the north Andaman Islands and heavy rainfall at isolated places over South Andaman Islands during the next 12 hours.

Light to moderate rainfall is likely at a few places over the Nicobar Islands as well. Squall winds reaching 55-65km per hour gusting to 75 kmph have prevailed over Andaman and Nicobar Islands, east-central Bay of Bengal and adjoining the southeast Bay of Bengal. It will gradually increase, becoming gale winds reaching 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph over the region from Monday evening.

The sea is expected to be rough with waves six to nine metres high till Monday evening over the north Andaman Sea and adjoining areas of Bay of Bengal, the weather bureau said.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into southeast Bay of Bengal on Monday, into the Andaman Sea and along and off Andaman and Nicobar Islands on Monday and Tuesday, and into east central Bay of Bengal till Wednesday.

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