Gujarat braces as Cyclone Tauktae makes night approach
Tauktae made landfall around 8.30 pm on Monday as an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’, said India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials. Thereafter it moved north north-westwards and crossed the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (in Bhavnagar district), east of Diu, with a maximum wind speed of up to 185 km/hr.
The speed at the centre, or ‘eye’ of the storm, was up to 190 km/hr. “We could say that its intensity is bordering on ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’, and it matches the forecasts we had made,” said Sunitha Devi who studies cyclones at IMD. She said that the Met department had predicted that Tauktae will be a ‘very severe cyclone’ ever since a low-pressure area had formed over the Arabian Sea. “This morning it intensified into an extremely severe cyclonic storm, but it weakened marginally during landfall,” she added.
Gale winds with speeds up to 90 km/hr blew along the south Gujarat, Daman and Diu coasts when the cyclone hit land. Diu reported wind speed of 110 km/hr. But speeds are likely to go up to 185 km/hr off the Gujarat coast and places like Amreli, Bhavnagar, Junagadh and Gir Somnath districts. In Bharuch, Anand, south Ahmedabad, and Botad, wind speed will be up to 165 km/hr, IMD said in its bulletin.
Tidal waves of up to 4 metres height will hit Anand, Amreli, Gir Somnath, Diu and Bhavnagar, while waves as high as 3 metres will inundate areas in Bharuch and southern parts of Ahmedabad.
Weather watchers noted that this kind of a powerful cyclone hasn’t hit the Gujarat coast in a long time. “Going by IMD’s cyclone e-Atlas, for the first time after 1976, and only the second time since 1900, a cyclone that formed in May is going to hit the Gujarat coast with wind speeds greater than 35 knots (65 km/hr),” said Vineet Kumar, a cyclone researcher at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
He also tweeted that Tauktae, with a wind speed of 120 knots (222 km/hr), is the strongest pre-monsoon Arabian Sea cyclone after 2010 and the third most intense pre-monsoon Arabian Sea cyclone in the satellite era (1982 onwards) going by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center located at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.
O P Sreejith, scientist and head of Climate Monitoring and Prediction Group of IMD Pune, noted that the 1998 Gujarat cyclone that had hit Kandla was of a similar intensity. “The main reason for Tauktae’s sudden intensification is high surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea,” he added.