Cyclone Amphan, expected to make landfall in West Bengal by Wednesday evening, is very likely to weaken into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” in the next six hours, the India Meteorological Department said in its 8.15 am bulletin on Tuesday. On Monday, Amphan had been classified as a “super cyclone”.

Cyclone Amphan moved North-North East during the six hours preceding 5.30 am at a speed of 14 km per hour, the IMD said. At 5.30 am, it lay centred over West Central Bay of Bengal, about 520 km south of Paradip in Odisha, the weather department added. It said that the cyclone was very likely to cross the West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha and Hatiya Islands, close to the Sunderbans, by Wednesday evening.

IMD Director-General Mrityunjay Mohapatra said on Monday evening that cyclone Amphan might inflict a lot of damage in the coastal districts of West Bengal and Bangladesh, News18 reported. East Medinipur, North 24 Parganas and South 24 Parganas were predicted to be the most affected, with tidal waves four metres to six metres tall.

A map showing the location of Cyclone Amphan on Tuesday morning in the Bay of Bengal.
Source: IMD

“The storm has fed on high ocean thermal energy and high wind shear,” Mohapatra said. “It is only the second time that a super cyclone has formed over Bay of Bengal, the first being the 1999 super cyclone that hit Odisha. The heat content in seas of Bay of Bengal is always higher compared to Arabian Sea. This helps formation of cyclones.” Mohapatra added that the eye of the storm is likely to pass through the Sunderbans, but its intensity might be lesser than that of Cyclone Fani, which hit India’s eastern coast in 2019.

The cyclone is likely to bring heavy rainfall to Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Jajpur, Kendrapara and Keonjhar districts in Odisha on Wednesday. The IMD also expects the cyclone to not be stationary during landfall, instead moving ahead fast and weakening into a depression by Thursday evening.

“The wind speed… when it hits land would be 165-175 km per hour, gusting to up to 195 km per hour,” Mohapatra said in a Facebook live event on Monday evening. “Districts in West Bengal, including East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata would be affected severely.”

Twenty-five NDRF teams deployed

On Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting to review the preparedness for the cyclone. The National Disaster Response Force informed the officials present at the meeting that 25 teams had been deployed to tackle the situation and 12 were in reserve, The Indian Express reported. It added that Army, Air Force, Navy and Coast Guard teams have been put on alert.

Odisha Joint Commissioner (Relief) Prabhat Mohapatra said that evacuation of people from low-lying and vulnerable areas of all coastal districts in the state is under way. Residents from coastal areas of Jagatsinghpur district were shifted to a cyclone shelter late on Monday, ANI reported.

On May 16, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik 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.