Revisiting the super cyclone that hit Odisha in 1999

Fears of Phailin have evoked memories of a cyclonic storm in 1999, when winds reaching speeds of 300 kph battered Odisha for 30 hours.
By HT Correspondent | Agencies, Odisha
UPDATED ON OCT 12, 2013 01:46 PM IST

On October 29, 1999, a super cyclone with a wind speed of 300 mph had struck Odisha, making it probably the greatest cyclonic disaster ever recorded in the last century.


It was first detected when it was at its low pressure stage over the gulf of Siam by the IMD cyclone surveillance system on the morning of October 24, five days before it made landfall.

Winds of up to 260 kph raged for over 36 hours.

Coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri and Ganjam were forced to evacuate their homes.

Landfall point
Between Ersama and Balikuda in Jagatsinghpur district (southwest of Paradip)

Time of landfall
10.30 am, October 29, 1999

High wind speed
The wind speed of the super cyclone was so high that the anemometer, a device used for measuring wind speed, at the IMD office and at Paradip had failed to record it

Eye of storm: Paradip

A boy waits with all of his belongings for a rescue boat to take him back home through a water logged area near Balasore, Odisha, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)
A boy waits with all of his belongings for a rescue boat to take him back home through a water logged area near Balasore, Odisha, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)

Three days of torrential rain
The super cyclone centred over coastal areas of Odisha for three days was accompanied by torrential rain as a tidal surge of about 7 to 10 metre that swept more than 20 km inland.

Diameter of cyclone: 200 km

Originated from

1999 super cyclone had originated from about 550 km east of the Andaman Islands as a depression

Storm Surge

While the impending storm Phailin may cause a storm surge of about 1.5-2 metre this time, the state witnessed it at 7 -10 metre in 1999.

Districts and towns affected
The storm in 1999 led to 45 cm to 95 cm of rainfall and affected 14 coastal districts, 28 coastal towns and two major cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack.

Death toll
While the official death toll then was 9,885 people, unofficial sources estimated the toll to be above 50,000. An estimated 1,500 children were orphaned. Of the total casualty, Jagatsinghpur district alone had accounted for 8,119 people.

Affected people
At least 13 million people, including 3.3 million children, 5 million women and nearly 3.5 million elderly people were affected in 1999.

Injured people

The storm had left 7,505 people injured

Livestock lost

3,15,886 head of cattle

Roof snatched

16,50,086 houses damaged, 23,129 houses washed away, 7,46,337 houses fully destroyed and 8,80,620 houses partially damaged

(Source: UNDP, Odisha Disaster Management Authority and Utkal University report)

A woman sits along with her child despondently on dry land waiting for relief to come as her home lies submerged in flood waters 31 October 1999 near Balasore in Orissa, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)
A woman sits along with her child despondently on dry land waiting for relief to come as her home lies submerged in flood waters 31 October 1999 near Balasore in Orissa, as river water flooded her village among thousands of others due to the cyclone that hit eastern India. (AFP Photo)
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