Cyclone Tauktae may be among the ‘strongest’ on India’s west coast in two decades

Two of Southeast Asia’s mega-cities, Mumbai and Karachi, lie in the path of Cyclone Tauktae

Formation of cyclone Tauktae on the morning of May 14. Image: Earth NullSchool

The first cyclone of 2021 may be here, and it may be a storm. Cyclone Tauktae is likely to form on May 16, 2021 in the Arabian Sea. The system needs to be watched closely for rapid escalation, which can make forecasting difficult.

Current storm characteristics indicate rapid intensification. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its Last update over the cyclone that an area of ​​low pressure had formed in the southeastern Arabian Sea near Lakshadweep on the morning of May 13.

IMD, in its latest cyclone update released on the afternoon of May 14, said a low had formed early in the morning of the same day. The low, which lies 360 kilometers west-southwest of Kannur in Kerala, is likely to intensify into a deep low on the evening of May 14 and a cyclone on the morning of May 15.

IMD predicted that the cyclone’s track will take it in a north-northeast direction until the evening of May 14 and in a north-northwest direction thereafter, towards the coast of Gujarat.

The meteorological agency predicted that the cyclone could escalate into a severe cyclone on the evening of May 15 and a very violent cyclone with wind speeds exceeding 160 km / h on the evening of May 16. On May 13, IMD had scheduled the cyclone to form on May 16. The cyclone is expected to reach the coast of Gujarat on the morning of May 18.

But this scenario is changing rapidly and uncertainly due to the unusual warming of the Arabian Sea which could itself be a consequence of global warming resulting from greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.

Data from the US National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s Global Forecasting System, visually represented on two different online platforms (Nullschool Earth and Windy), shows that a depression has already formed and that Cyclone Tauktae could form on the evening of May 14.

This would be well ahead of the IMD timeline, a sign of rapid escalation and imminent endangerment of India’s western coastal states.

IBM The weather channel reported that the formation of the cyclone could take place on Friday (May 14) or Saturday (May 15), well before the current May 16 of the IMD.

IMD’s current forecast for the cyclone’s track is in a north-northwest direction from its current position towards the coasts of Gujarat and Pakistan. The agency said the cyclone could strengthen further and hit the Gujarat coast on the evening of May 18.

Many weather models predict that the cyclone’s path will be really close to the coast, meaning coastal areas of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra will experience heavy rains from May 14 and continue through the week. -end, according to The weather channel.

The private weather monitoring company also predicts the cyclone will be one of the strongest the west coast of India has seen in more than two decades. Two heavily populated mega-cities in South Asia, Mumbai and Karachi, will be on the cyclone’s path this weekend.

Roxy Mathew Koll, climatologist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology in Pune and lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate, Told Down to earth:

The frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea have increased in recent years. This is due to rapid warming which has made the relatively cooler Arabian Sea (compared to the Bay of Bengal) a warm basin region that can actively support the formation of cyclones.

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and Princeton University in the United States and the University of East Anglia in the United Kingdom analyzed 90 peer-reviewed articles to understand the impact of a change Climate on Tropical Cyclones – a combined name used for hurricanes, cyclones, and tropical cyclones. typhoons.

They concluded that there could be a five percent increase in maximum cyclonic wind speeds if the world warms two degrees Celsius by 2100. The study was published in the ScienceBrief review in March 2021.

Koll further added:

Warming oceans have also created new challenges. Cyclones are now intensifying rapidly as the warm waters of the ocean serve as fuel. Extremely severe cyclones like Fani and Amphan went from weak to severe in less than 24 hours due to warm ocean conditions. State-of-the-art cyclone models are unable to select this rapid intensification because they do not accurately integrate ocean dynamics.

Rapid intensification occurs when there is an increase in maximum sustained winds from a cyclone of at least 55 kilometers per hour in 24 hours.

All these conditions are also valid for Tauktae. “It turned into a low pressure system sooner than expected. As of now, it is expected to turn into a cyclone by May 16. Since ocean and atmospheric conditions are now favorable, the chances of early cyclone formation and rapid intensification cannot be excluded, ”Koll ​​warned.

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