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From Gulf of Thailand to Gujarat: Cyclone Ockhi’s unusual long life and path

Cyclone Ockhi has travelled almost 4000 nautical miles after originating in the Gulf of Thailand and has had an unusually long life.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2017 20:15 IST
Malavika Vyawahare
Malavika Vyawahare
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cyclone Ockhi,Gulf of Thailand,Surat
Prelude to Ockhi. A man cross the road in heavy rain at Dadar in Mumbai as the city braces for cyclone Ochki.(HT Photo)

After devastating parts of Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshwadeep islands, cyclone Ockhi is barreling towards Gujarat and Maharashtra and is set to make landfall north of Surat around midnight Tuesday, two weeks after it originated as a low pressure area in the Gulf of Thailand.

“In a few hours it will become a cyclone and then into a deep depression,” Mahesh Palawat at Skymet Weather, a private forecasting agency told HT. “Many areas in Mumbai have received moderate to heavy showers. North Surat, south and central Gujarat will see moderate to heavy showers till tomorrow morning.

Rains are also expected in the next 24-48 hours southern Rajasthan because of the cyclonic system.

By Wednesday the storm is expected to wear off, but it has travelled almost 4000 nautical miles from being a low pressure area in the Gulf of Thailand on November 21. The deep depression was sustained by favourable conditions in south Bay of Bengal before it charted a course towards the Arabian sea where it gained strength.

The warmer sea temperatures and moisture in South Arabian sea fuelled its emergence as a cyclone on November 30 as it passed over the Cape Comorin between India and Sri Lanka.

Read more: Cyclone Ockhi less than 300km off Mumbai’s coast; city sees heavy rain, traffic snarls

Usually storms that develop in the Arabian sea head in the north west direction towards Oman because of the direction of the upper wind systems. Only 10-20% swing towards the south west in the direction of India’s west coast.

Paths of cyclones and severe cyclones in and around India between 2000-16. (Courtesy: IMD)

“There is a weather trough moving west to east. The steering currents at the 300-200 millibars are moving it towards Gujarat and Maharashtra,” Palawat said.

“Upper air wind currents were responsible for steering the path of the cyclone,” concurred Kuldeep Srivastava, a senior official at India Meteorological Department.

Another well marked low pressure area has developed in south east Bay of Bengal which is very likely to become a depression in the next 24 hours. It is likely to bring rains to coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha on December 7 and 8.

First Published: Dec 05, 2017 13:27 IST