Millions of people in India and Bangladesh are bracing for cyclone Amphan, which is due to make landfall in few hours, bringing damaging winds and heavy rain even as the world is already struggling with the coronavirus pandemic.
Super Cyclone Amphan became the strongest storm ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal on May 18, after intensifying with sustained wind speeds of up to 270 kilometers per hour (165 miles per hours). Amphan has weakened slightly since, but the storm is still being designated as an 'extremely severe cyclone'.
What is a super cyclone?
Super cyclone refers to tropical storm, where wind speeds cross 220kmph (137mph). Cyclones are "multi-hazard" occurrences: strong winds cause physical damage; and tidal waves and heavy rains cause flooding.
What causes a tropical cyclone?
Tropical cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons form when convection causes warm, moist air above the ocean to rise. They begin as a group
of storms when the water gets as hot as 80 °F (27 °C) or hotter. The Coriolis effect made by the Earth's rotation causes the winds to rotate.
Bay of Bengal - the hotbed of tropical storms
The largest bay in the world - 500 million people live on the coastal rim that surrounds it - is also the site of the majority of the deadliest tropical cyclones in world history.
According to reports, 26 of the 35 deadliest tropical cyclones in recorded have occurred here.
Cyclone Amphan is the latest, expected to make landfall in coastal areas of India and Bangladesh on May 19, 2020.
India meteorological officials say it will be an "extremely intense cyclone" when it hits the coast of the bay, with wind speeds up to 195km/h (121mph) and storm surges as tall as a two-storey building.
History of a Super Cyclone in Odisha
Orissa was battered by a Super Cyclonic Storm on 29 October, 1999 that made landfall near Paradip. The estimated maximum wind speed reached 260-270 kmph in the core area .
How deadly was the 1999 Super Cyclone in Odisha
The 1999 Odisha cyclone, also known as Cyclone 05B, and Paradip cyclone, was the deadliest tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean since the 1991 Bangladesh cyclone, and deadliest Indian storm since 1971. It struck the coast of Odisha with an height of in 1999 was 26 feet (8 meters). Approximately 275,000 homes were destroyed leaving 1.67 million people homeless. Another 19.5 million people were affected by the supercyclone to some degree. A total of 9,803 people officially died from the storm.
How did the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone occur?
A tropical depression formed over the Malay Peninsula on October 25. It moved to the northwest and became a tropical storm on October 26. It continued to strengthen into a cyclone on October 27, 1999. On October 28, it became a severe cyclone with a peak of 190 mph
(305 km/h) winds. It hit India the next day as a 155 mph (250 km/h) cyclone.
Preparations made just before the super cyclone of 1999
Tens of thousands of families from the coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, and Ganjam were forced to evacuate their homes before the storm's arrival. More than 44,500 people took shelter in twenty three Red Cross cyclone shelters.