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Tauktae likely to be a very severe cyclonic storm: IMD

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Tauktae, once formed, is likely to intensify into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ with wind speed of 150 to 160 kmph gusting to 175 kmph on May 17, according to the latest forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The depression over Lakshadweep area has moved north-north-eastwards with a speed of about 19 kmph and is now centred over Lakshadweep about 30 km south southwest of Amini Divi, 320 km west-southwest of Kannur (Kerala), 1120 km south southeast of Veraval (Gujarat) at about 11.30 am on May 14.

It is very likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours and is also expected to intensify further during the subsequent 24 hours. Tauktae is likely to move north north-eastwards initially for some more time and then move north-north westwards and reach the Gujarat coast by May 18 morning.

ALSO READ | ‘Tauktae’ likely to be an intense cyclone as oceanic conditions favourable, warn scientists

There is no consensus among models yet on whether the very severe cyclonic storm will cross the Gujarat coast. “As on today we cannot say very clearly if it will cross the Gujarat coast. But the probability of crossing the coast cannot be ruled out. It may skirt the coast early on May 18. Because it’s a large system, it will bring a lot of heavy and extremely heavy rainfall in its path. It is also an intense system,” said Sunitha Devi, in charge, cyclones at IMD.

Most cyclones develop in the Arabian Sea during May end and early June. “Vayu was a very severe cyclonic storm which formed over Arabian Sea in early June in 2019. The 1998 Gujarat cyclone also formed in early June. So, while cyclone formation in May in the Arabian Sea is rare, it often happens when monsoon sets in,” added Sunitha.

According to “Assessment of Climate Change over the Indian Region,” a report released by the Union ministry of earth sciences last year, observations indicate that frequency of extremely severe cyclonic storms (ESCS) over the Arabian Sea has increased during the post-monsoon seasons of 1998–2018. Most models are projecting a higher sea surface warming in the Arabian Sea than the Bay of Bengal.

ALSO READ | Cyclone Tauktae: NDRF teams deployed in five states

“The frequency and intensity of cyclones in the Arabian Sea have increased in recent years. This is because of the rapid warming that has made the relatively cooler Arabian Sea (compared to the Bay of Bengal) a warm pool region that can actively support cyclone formation. Climate projections indicate that Arabian Sea will continue warming under increased carbon emissions, resulting in more intense cyclones in the future,” explained Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology.

“Ocean warming has made some new challenges also. Cyclones are now intensifying rapidly since warm ocean waters act as fuel for them. Extremely severe cyclones like Fani and Amphan intensified from a weak to severe status in less than 24 hours due to warm ocean conditions. That gives us less time to be prepared. State-of-the-art cyclone models are unable to pick this rapid intensification because they do not incorporate the ocean dynamics accurately,” he added.

Light to moderate rain with extremely heavy rain (over 20 cm) is likely over Lakshadweep on May 13 and 14; over Kerala on May 13; over ghat areas of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka on May 15. It is likely to rain on May 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17 in all these places, the IMD said.

In Konkan and Goa, light to moderate rainfall at many places with heavy rainfall at isolated places is very likely on May 15 and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places on May 16 and 17. In Gujarat, rainfall activity is very likely to begin from May 17 with a significant increase during the subsequent 2 days and heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places over Saurashtra and Kutch on May 18 and 19.

The major impact from the cyclone is expected over southeast, east-central and northeast Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep – Maldives area and Lakshadweep Islands and along and off Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat coasts. In these areas, very rough to high seas, squally weather and gales around the system centre will affect shipping vessels and fishing operations; inundation of low lying areas of the islands of Lakshadweep during May 14 to 16; very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall causing flash floods and landslides over the coastal districts of Kerala, Karnataka and Goa during May 14 to 16 and Saurashtra, Kutch during May 18;

Thunder squalls and lightning could cause adverse impact on human settlements and livestock as well as damage to loose and unsecured structures along the coast line.

Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the Arabian Sea during May 14 to 18. Ships too have been advised to avoid the area; ports along the west coast of India may take necessary precautions; naval base operations may maintain necessary precautions; tourism activities may be restricted over the area specified for squally weather and rough sea warning.

Conditions are extremely favourable for the rapid intensification of Tauktae. “Ocean heat potential is above normal; sea surface temperatures are 1-2 degree C above normal and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is also favouring rapid intensification. We should be prepared,” Sunitha Devi had said on Thursday.

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