East Coast gears up for “Yaas”

After Tauktae, India to be hit by another cyclonic storm forming over the Bay of Bengal.

In what seems like a rivalry between the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, a cyclonic storm has been predicted to hit the eastern coastline of the country right after Tauktae’s landfall in Gujarat. With a fresh low-pressure zone brewing up in the North Andaman Sea, Odisha and West Bengal will likely to be hit by their annual cyclone by the end of this month.

On Wednesday, Director General of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Shri Mrutyunjay Mohapatra warned that a fresh cyclone might hit the coast between the two states of Odisha and West Bengal on May 26th. According to Shri Mohapatra, a low-pressure system will develop around the Andaman Sea and its neighbourhood on May 22nd which will intensify during the subsequent 72 hours and turn into a cyclonic storm by 25th May. Although the exact track and time of the landfall cannot be predicted now, the system is likely to move in a north-westward direction and make landfall between the Odisha and West Bengal coastline.

Adding to the information, IMD’s Cyclone Centre’s Chief Shri RK Jenamani said that under the storm’s influence, coastal Odisha is likely to see rain from as early as 24th May. The cyclone is expected to be of the severe or extremely severe category with wind speeds gusting between 150 to 190 kmph, although it can only be ascertained after the 22nd of May. In accordance with Shri Jenamani’s statement, the track and the place of landfall will successfully be pinpointed by the 23rd but northern districts are more likely to be severely affected irrespective of the location.

Warning the fisher-folk, DG Shri Mohapatra had also stated that atmospheric conditions in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal will be rough with wind speed going over 70 kmph at the very least; which is why fishermen shouldn’t veer into the north-eastern Bay of Bengal from 21st to 24th of May and north-north western waters from May 24 onwards.

Interestingly, talks of the possible cyclone had started even before the IMD’s confirmation when Secretary of Ministry of Earth Sciences, Madhavan Rajeevan had tweeted about the same on Thursday.

Notably, once it does form, the cyclone will be named ‘Yaas’ under the tropical cyclone naming convention of the North Indian Ocean. The said name has been put forth by Oman and is the Arabic name of the flower Myrtle (Myrtus Communis).

Most international models like Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) and the Canadian Meteorological Centre (CMC) have predicted Cyclone Yaas to make landfall at the border of West Bengal’s Digha and Odisha’s Balasore by 27th May. On the other hand, the American Global Forecast System (US-GFS) has predicted a different course and has said that the system will hit Bangladesh on the 28th of May.

Odisha, which has been lauded across the globe for its disaster management model was quick to swing into action with Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Kumar Jena at the helm of the response team. The SRC, on Thursday, chaired several meetings with the Secretaries of all departments of the state government and the officials of IMD to oversee the preparedness for the possible storm. Shri Jena had video conferences with collectors of 10 districts, including those in the coastal stretch between Puri and Balasore, and other officials of Police, Fire Services, the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) and the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and advised them to initiate processes like cyclone shelters identification, staff deployment & training, facilities check, infrastructure check, evacuation planning etcetera among others.

With the state reeling under the unprecedented Covid second wave, like the rest of the country, the SRC also directed officials to mobilise ASHA and WSHGs and plan food supply and medical assistance to each vulnerable section on a priority basis. He also added that this time, better efforts need to be taken as it has to be ensured that all Covid appropriate protocols are adhered to.

West Bengal has not been left much behind as far as the preparedness for the storm Yaas is concerned. Chief Secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyaya in his meeting with DMs of coastal districts has advised officials to keep an observant eye on the developments associated with the cyclonic movement and prepare themselves for the same as well.

Both the states are well versed in dealing with such disasters being hit by a cyclone almost every year. While Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Fani, which was the strongest tropical cyclone to strike the eastern coastline after the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone, had made landfall and wreaked havoc through Odisha’s Puri on 3rd May; the last cyclonic storm to hit West Bengal was the Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan. Even though both the storms had been rated Category 5 in the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and had caused catastrophic damage, neither of the states had cowed down in their fight against nature. Even this time, a similar, if not better, resilience is expected from both West Bengal and Odisha.

But above all, as long as Shri Jagannath’s Sudarshan Chakra guards the coast, Odisha and the entire eastern line can rise again, irrespective of the intensity of the storms razing through the land.

Megha Satapathy

Intern, Goa Chronicle

DISCLAIMER: This article reflects author’s view point. Goa Chronicle may or may not subscribe to views of the author


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