As cyclone Biparjoy makes landfall in Gujarat, exploring the most lethal tempests to strike India within the past decade

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Cyclonic storm Biparjoy has made landfall off the Gujarat coast, heralding a challenging situation for authorities and residents. With wind speeds projected to reach up to 145 km per hour, the weather department has issued warnings about the potential for severe damages.

Prepared for the cyclone’s impact, multiple disaster management teams including the Army, Air Force, NDRF, and SDRF are on standby. Jakhau port in Kutch district is expected to witness the landfall of Cyclone Biparjoy, as indicated by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The cyclone’s extensive damaging potential has prompted the evacuation of approximately 74,000 individuals residing in vulnerable areas.

India, with a coastal stretch of 7,516 km, faces around 8 percent of the world’s tropical cyclones. Nine coastal states and some Union territories, namely Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Kerala, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, and Gujarat, are home to nearly 320 million people who remain susceptible to the impacts of cyclones.

Historically, the Bay of Bengal has been the breeding ground for most cyclones targeting India’s east coast. However, recent research indicates a significant increase in the frequency, duration, and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea over the past few decades.

Government data reveals an average formation of five to six tropical cyclones each year, with two or three potentially being severe.

Over the last decade, India has encountered several major cyclones, leaving a lasting impact on various regions. Here are some notable examples:

Cyclone Tauktae (2021):

Amidst India’s fierce battle against the second wave of COVID-19, extremely severe Cyclone Tauktae struck the southern coast of Gujarat on May 17, 2021. With maximum sustained winds reaching up to 185 kmph, it became the strongest tropical cyclone to affect India’s west coast in at least two decades. Gujarat suffered the highest number of casualties, and the cyclone caused significant destruction in Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, and Maharashtra.

Cyclone Amphan (2020):

As the first super cyclone over the Bay of Bengal since Odisha’s devastating cyclone in 1999, Amphan made landfall near the Sundarbans in West Bengal on May 20, 2020. The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) recognized Amphan as the costliest tropical cyclone ever recorded in the North Indian Ocean. It resulted in approximately USD 14 billion in economic losses in India, and the storm claimed 129 lives across India and Bangladesh.

Cyclone Fani (2019):

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Striking the eastern coast on May 3, 2019, near Puri in Odisha, the extremely severe cyclonic storm Fani boasted wind speeds of 175 kmph. The cyclone claimed 64 lives and caused substantial damage to infrastructure, including houses, power lines, agricultural fields, communication networks, and water supply systems.

Cyclone Vardah (2016):

Categorized as a very severe cyclonic storm, Vardah made landfall near Chennai on December 12, 2016. The storm claimed 18 lives in Tamil Nadu and caused extensive damage to infrastructure, uprooting trees and disrupting power supply in Chennai and neighboring areas. The effective warnings and preparedness measures facilitated the evacuation of vulnerable populations.

Cyclone Hudhud (2014):

On October 12, 2014, Cyclone Hudhud struck the coastal regions of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, resulting in approximately 124 fatalities and significant damage to infrastructure, including buildings, roads, and the power grid. Visakhapatnam and nearby areas bore the brunt of heavy rainfall, strong winds, storm surges, and flooding.

Cyclone Phailin (2013):

On October 12, 2013, Cyclone Phailin made landfall near Gopalpur in Ganjam district, Odisha, with wind speeds of approximately 200 km per hour. Impacting around 13.2 million people in 171 blocks across 18 districts, Phailin led to 44 casualties and extensive damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and livelihoods.

Thanks to the Indian Meteorological Department’s accurate early warning system and effective disaster preparedness measures, millions of people have been successfully evacuated, thereby minimizing loss of life. Nevertheless, cyclones like Phailin have left behind significant damage to infrastructure, agriculture, and people’s means of living.

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