Yaas may intensify into very severe cyclonic storm: IMD
The deep depression over east-central Bay of Bengal intensified into a cyclonic storm, Yaas, on Monday morning, and is very likely to intensify into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ by Monday night and a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ in the subsequent 24 hours, India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said.
Yaas (pronounced Yass) is likely to reach the north Odisha and West Bengal coasts between Paradip and Sagar islands close to Balasore in Odisha on May 26 early morning as a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ with wind speeds of up to 166 km/hr. After crossing the coast in the afternoon, it will intensify further.
IMD had earlier said Yass would make landfall around Wednesday evening, but on Monday, it advanced the time. “Once Yaas intensifies into a ‘severe cyclone’, we expect its travel over the sea to be faster, which is why the time of landfall has been advanced,” said Sunitha Devi who tracks cyclones at IMD. She added that at the time of landfall, wind speed will be up to 165 km/hr, with gusts up to 185 km/hr.
Although oceanic and atmospheric conditions over Bay of Bengal are extremely favourable for intensification of Yaas, experts hope it won’t become an ‘extremely severe cyclone’ as it has formed relatively close to the coast and has less time to travel over the unusually warm sea. Matthew Roxy Koll, a climate scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, had said on Sunday that north Bay of Bengal, where the cyclone is forming, is very warm with surface temperatures reaching up to 32 degrees Celsius — 1-2 degrees above normal. “However, since the distance between the location of cyclogenesis and landfall is short, the cyclone won’t spend much time over the ocean. This will prevent it from intensifying into an extremely severe cyclone,” Koll had said.
But IMD scientists do not rule out the possibility of further intensification. “Comparatively, its time over sea is less. Cyclone Fani (2019) had formed over Andaman Sea, and Amphan (2020) had also formed towards the south. After Aila (2009), this is probably the first to be comparatively closer to the coast. The landfall location of Yaas will be slightly to the west compared to Amphan, which made landfall over the Sunderbans,” Devi said.
But whether Yaas intensifies into an extremely severe cyclone or not, a lot of people are in harm’s way. “Millions of people are in the path of Yaas as it barrels towards Odisha and West Bengal. These include coastal and river-side communities living in immediately floodable areas and vulnerable houses, as well as marginal families living in slums and shanties that are expected to be impacted severely,” said Anshu Sharma, co-founder, Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society, an NGO.
He also expressed serious concern about these regions still struggling with a high number of Covid cases, as that complicates evacuation and rescue operations. “Given the scale of the cyclone, we need to be conscious of a sizable number of people with special needs who may be impacted besides Covid patients, including pregnant women, infants, persons with disabilities and those out of work and resources due to the lockdowns,” Sharma said.
The cyclone will give rise to tidal waves as high as 4 metres, which might inundate low-lying coastal areas of Jhargram, South 24 Parganas and Midnapore in West Bengal, and Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur districts in Odisha, around the time of landfall.
Light to moderate rain at many places with heavy falls at isolated places over coastal Odisha is likely on Monday, with heavy to very heavy rain over some areas, and extremely heavy rain (over 20 cm) at isolated places in Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur and Bhadrak on May 26.
In West Bengal and Sikkim, light to moderate rain was expected at most places, with heavy falls at isolated places in the coastal districts of West Bengal on Monday. Gale winds with speeds up to 90 km/hr have been blowing already over west-central and east-central Bay of Bengal.
Squalls with speeds of 110 km/hr are likely to blow from May 26 early morning and gradually intensify to up to 185 km/hr over northwest Bay of Bengal.