Cyclone Tauktae maintained intensity even after landfall, affected hit 9 states
Tauktae is among the few cyclones that didn’t lose steam even after landfall. On May 17 evening, Tauktae made landfall in Gujarat but it maintained its intensity till late May 18 evening, bringing rain over many parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan.
Then, as a depression over southeast Rajasthan it interacted with a western disturbance over the western Himalayan region, bringing widespread and long spells of rain over the entire northwest India.
Extremely severe cyclonic ttorm, Tauktae, which started its journey as a depression over Lakshadweep area on May 14, degenerated into a low-pressure area only on Thursday over east Rajasthan. During its lifetime, Tauktae impacted Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand, and Delhi.
Delhi received the highest-ever rainfall of 119.3 mm in May for the first time since 1951, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Thursday.
“Tauktae has maintained energy...It did not degenerate which is uncommon. Very severe cyclone Vayu, which also developed over Arabian Sea in 2019, had a long life over the ocean. It formed on May 10 and sustained till May 18. What is unique about Tauktae that is it was a cyclonic storm over land for more than a day,” said Sunitha Devi, in charge, cyclones, at IMD.
“Tauktae sustained as a cyclone for 24 hours over Gujarat for a long time even after landfall and then it started interacting with a western disturbance which was affecting the western Himalayan region. It was already an extremely severe storm. The two systems supported each other. Even now, its remnants haven’t degenerated. Something similar had happened during the Uttarakhand floods of 2013. A low-pressure area had formed over Bay of Bengal which was over west Uttar Pradesh and started interacting with mid latitude westerlies and then floods started,” explained M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.
“I don’t know if we should call this long life of Tauktae rare but this can happen whenever a tropical system interacts with westerlies. The good thing is the showers over Delhi were continuous and not a downpour in a couple of hours. So there has been some run-off. In fact, ground water aquifers have recharged as this is a dry season,” Mohapatra added.
Experts said the cyclone’s long life over land could be because of the intensity it had already gained over ocean. “This might be due to two reasons. One, the cyclone was of very severe intensity when it had landfall and had already acquired its supply of heat and moisture from the Arabian Sea. Second, north India might have been humid (and warm since it’s summer) considering the fact that there was an unusual amount of rainfall prior to the cyclone itself. These are possibilities and need in-depth research to point out the reasons,” said Matthew Roxy Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.
“Another reason is that the upper-level winds are eastward. So that helped the cyclone and the rains to move further eastward,” he added.
Meanwhile, southwest monsoon is very likely to advance over south Andaman Sea and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal around May 21, one day in advance in association with the strengthening and deepening of southwesterly winds over the region.
A low-pressure area is very likely to form over north Andaman Sea and adjoining eastcentral Bay of Bengal around May 22. It is very likely to intensify into a Cyclonic storm Yaas by May 24. It would move northwestwards and reach near Odisha- West Bengal coasts around May 26 morning.
“We cannot rule out Amphan-like intensification. The only good thing is that models as of now are showing that the system is moving very fast over the ocean. Its intensification will be restricted if its time over the sea is less. But if there is slow movement of the cyclone, it can intensify to very severe or higher category,” Sunitha Devi said on Wednesday.