The extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan, which is expected to make landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh on Wednesday, intensified into a super cyclone with winds of 200 km per hour on Monday afternoon, the India Meteorological Department said.
The super cyclone is likely to cause heavy rainfall in parts of the Odisha coast. Isolated heavy rainfall is likely over Puri and Khorda districts on Tuesday and over North Odisha, the weather department added.
On Wednesday, the super cyclone may marginally lose its strength and cross over to the West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 180 km per hour to 190 km per hour before landfall, the Hindustan Times reported.
“All conditions are currently favourable for the development of a super cyclone,” said Sunita Devi, a scientist who is in charge of monitoring cyclones at the IMD. “The sea surface temperature is in the range of 30 to 31 degrees Celsius, as compared to an expected temperature of 28 degrees Celsius over the region. There is vertical wind shear and sufficient moisture in the air.” The IMD said this was the first time that super cyclones have been recorded in consecutive years, after Cyclone Kyarr in 2019 and Amphan now.
Cyclone Amphan is also the first super cyclonic storm in the Bay of Bengal after the 1999 super cyclone, which impacted coastal Odisha and killed over 9,000 people.
The IMD said in its 5.30 pm bulletin that Cyclone Amphan is likely to cause widespread damage to kuccha and even some pucca houses in West Bengal and Odisha, uproot power lines and trees. Fisherpeople have been asked to cease their activities from Monday to Wednesday. The IMD also said that rail and road traffic in affected areas of the two states will need to be diverted.
Prime minister holds meeting
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday headed a high-level meeting to review the preparedness to tackle the cyclone, NDTV reported. The meeting was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah, Principal Advisor to the Prime Minister PK Sinha, Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba and other senior officers in the central government.
“Reviewed the preparedness regarding the situation due to cyclone ‘Amphan’,” Modi tweeted. “The response measures as well as evacuation plans were discussed. I pray for everyone’s safety and assure all possible support from the central government.”
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee held a meeting with government officials to ensure preparedness for the landfall and impact, News18 reported. Over one lakh people will be evacuated soon from Ghoramara Dweep, Kalinagar in Kakdwip, Naamkhana, Bakkhali, Frasergunj, Sagar Island and Pathor Pratima from Sundarbans.
IMD Director (Kolkata) GC Das said the cyclone is likely to wreak havoc in the Sunderbans in West Bengal’s South 24 Parganas district. “As of now it seems Amphan will hit the Sundarbans with a wind speed of around 150 km,” he said. “It is predicted to skirt Odisha and make a landfall in the Sundarbans. The next 24 hours are very critical as Amphan is expected to intensify into an extremely severe cyclonic storm.”
Sundarbans Affairs Minister Manturam Pakhira said multiple teams of the State Disaster Response Force and the National Disaster Response Force have been stationed at various places in the Sunderbans. A meeting with Coast Guard officials will be held soon. Community kitchens and mobile health centres have also been set up to help stranded people.
Odisha Joint Commissioner (Relief) Prabhat Mohapatra said that evacuation of people from low-lying and vulnerable areas of all coastal districts in Odisha is under way. “Places like Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Balasore, and Bhadrak are likely to be affected more,” he said.
Odisha’s Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday set a target of zero casualty for his administration. The state government had also urged the Centre to temporarily suspend the special trains for migrants passing through areas that fall in the direction of the cyclone. Last year in May, major parts of the state were devastated by cyclone Fani.