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Landfall of Fani unusual for a tropical cyclone in spring

By AJIT PATOWARY
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GUWAHATI, May 4 - �Fani� is category-III hurricane and at landfall, it is classified as an �extremely severe cyclonic storm� with wind speed of 180 to 190 kmph with gusts to 200 kmph. The Bhubaneswar Airport recorded a wind gust of 130 kmph on Friday morning when Fani passed over Odisha.

Dr Rahul Mahanta, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Climate Research Centre (ICRC) of Cotton University, said �Fani� is the strongest cyclone early this year in the northern Indian Ocean, similar to cyclone Nargis of 2008, according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University. Due to land interaction, the intensity of cyclone �Fani� would eventually keep weakening because the moisture feed from the sea has now reduced drastically.

By May 4, �Fani� would be over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, and over the western parts of Assam. On May 5, the western parts of Assam and Meghalaya would experience heavy rains. Similarly, rest of the northeastern states would experience light to moderate rains with few heavy spells. Experts say the weather will be clear over all the affected areas by May 6.

While �Fani� will begin weakening prior to reaching the Northeast Indian states, downpours and damaging winds under its impact have started from Friday afternoon and continue till Sunday. From Saturday night into Sunday, �Fani� will weaken into a tropical rainstorm as it tracks over Bangladesh and Northeast India.

During this time, life-threatening flooding is likely along with an elevated risk for mudslides across the rugged terrain of the region. Rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm will be possible from northern Bangladesh and Northeast India through Sunday.

Spring and autumn are the typical time for the formation of tropical cyclones on the Bay of Bengal. It is right before the wet phase of the South Asia monsoon develops during April to June, and right after it fades during September to early December, when upper-level winds relax enough for strong tropical cyclone development in the northern Indian Ocean.

As the monsoon�s wet phase peaks in the summer, upper-level winds in the northern Indian Ocean become too brisk for strong tropical cyclones to develop. Instead, weak monsoon depressions with heavy rain can form at times. However, the landfall of �Fani� in India is unusual for a tropical cyclone in spring, as most Bay of Bengal systems come ashore farther east during this time of year, reaching Bangladesh or Myanmar.

Along India�s east coast, landfalls are more likely in the autumn, when some of the nation�s most devastating tropical cyclones on record have struck. According to historical database of the United State�s National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, over the last 30 years, only four tropical cyclones of at least category-III or equivalent intensity have made landfall in Indian states of Odisha or West Bengal. Again, all of these were in autumn, not spring. The last to do so was Phailin in October 2013, which hammered Odisha as a category IV cyclone, killing 45 and inflicting a damage worth $655 million, said Dr Mahanta.

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Landfall of Fani unusual for a tropical cyclone in spring

GUWAHATI, May 4 - �Fani� is category-III hurricane and at landfall, it is classified as an �extremely severe cyclonic storm� with wind speed of 180 to 190 kmph with gusts to 200 kmph. The Bhubaneswar Airport recorded a wind gust of 130 kmph on Friday morning when Fani passed over Odisha.

Dr Rahul Mahanta, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Climate Research Centre (ICRC) of Cotton University, said �Fani� is the strongest cyclone early this year in the northern Indian Ocean, similar to cyclone Nargis of 2008, according to Phil Klotzbach of Colorado State University. Due to land interaction, the intensity of cyclone �Fani� would eventually keep weakening because the moisture feed from the sea has now reduced drastically.

By May 4, �Fani� would be over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim, and over the western parts of Assam. On May 5, the western parts of Assam and Meghalaya would experience heavy rains. Similarly, rest of the northeastern states would experience light to moderate rains with few heavy spells. Experts say the weather will be clear over all the affected areas by May 6.

While �Fani� will begin weakening prior to reaching the Northeast Indian states, downpours and damaging winds under its impact have started from Friday afternoon and continue till Sunday. From Saturday night into Sunday, �Fani� will weaken into a tropical rainstorm as it tracks over Bangladesh and Northeast India.

During this time, life-threatening flooding is likely along with an elevated risk for mudslides across the rugged terrain of the region. Rainfall amounts of 150-300 mm will be possible from northern Bangladesh and Northeast India through Sunday.

Spring and autumn are the typical time for the formation of tropical cyclones on the Bay of Bengal. It is right before the wet phase of the South Asia monsoon develops during April to June, and right after it fades during September to early December, when upper-level winds relax enough for strong tropical cyclone development in the northern Indian Ocean.

As the monsoon�s wet phase peaks in the summer, upper-level winds in the northern Indian Ocean become too brisk for strong tropical cyclones to develop. Instead, weak monsoon depressions with heavy rain can form at times. However, the landfall of �Fani� in India is unusual for a tropical cyclone in spring, as most Bay of Bengal systems come ashore farther east during this time of year, reaching Bangladesh or Myanmar.

Along India�s east coast, landfalls are more likely in the autumn, when some of the nation�s most devastating tropical cyclones on record have struck. According to historical database of the United State�s National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, over the last 30 years, only four tropical cyclones of at least category-III or equivalent intensity have made landfall in Indian states of Odisha or West Bengal. Again, all of these were in autumn, not spring. The last to do so was Phailin in October 2013, which hammered Odisha as a category IV cyclone, killing 45 and inflicting a damage worth $655 million, said Dr Mahanta.