19 May 2020
New Delhi: Cyclone Amphan, with 700 km width and 15 km height, is whirling 570 km south-southwest of West Bengal's Digha and 700 km south-southwest of Bangladesh's Khepupara. It is likely to make landfall between the two islands in over 24 hours.
It had gathered strength on Monday to become the first super cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since 1999 when a cyclone of similar intensity killed over 9,000 people in Odisha. It, however, weakened into an "extremely severe cyclonic storm" on Tuesday afternoon.
According to Sunita Devi, in-charge of cyclones at the India Meteorological Department (IMD), it's whirling at the wind speed of 210-220 km/h, gusting to over 240 km/h. The speed will, however, decline to 185 km/h by the time it makes landfall on Wednesday afternoon.
The weather condition is being continuously tracked by Doppler Weather Radar in the Visakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.
IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra had earlier said the cyclone would have multi-hazard consequences -- tidal wave, strong wind and heavy rain -- and could cause extensive damage to the Sundarbans' biodiversity.
The Amphan will hit coastal districts of West Bengal such as South and North Parganas, West and East Medinipur, Hoogli, Howrah and Kolkata. It could make the biggest impact in South and North 24 Parganas and East Medinipur districts.
After the landfall, wind will be blowing at 165-195 km/h along with heavy to extremely heavy rain. The tidal wave is expected to be about 4-6 feet above the astronomical tide.
In north coastal Odisha, wind speed can go up to 135 km/h during the landfall, but major damage is not expected as the cyclone may sweep parallel to the state's coast.
The IMD has advised shutdown of shipping and boating in the vulnerable parts of West Bengal and Odisha till May 20. Rerouting or shutting down of rail and road traffic is also advised.
To provide help in West Bengal, 19 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed, and four teams kept as standbys. In Odisha, 13 teams are deployed and 17 in standby.
According to climate scientist Roxy Mathew Koll, Cyclone Amphan intensified from a category-1 to category-5 in just 18 hours. "Amphan evolved into the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the Bay of Bengal," he said.
Meanwhile, Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Tuesday held telephonic conversation with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik over cyclone Amphan. Shah assured them all central assistance.