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Extremely Dangerous Cyclone Phailin Approaches India

11 Oct 2013, 1:12 pm

Cyclone Phailin

A “Very Severe Cyclonic Storm” will by approaching India this weekend. This storm has the potential for generating for a huge loss of life and property.  Storm surge will be begin well before this system actually makes landfall, which is expected to be at some point late tomorrow. This storm is similar in size to Katrina and comparable in intensity to a category 5 hurricane. This storm may weaken slightly before making landfall but it will still be equivalent to a category 4 or 5 hurricane.

This is the project track as issued by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center:

From the Hindustan Times: “Classified as a severe cyclonic storm by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Cyclone Phailin originated over east central Bay of Bengal and has since intensified moving north-westwards, 800 km southeast of Paradip (Odisha) and 870 km east-southeast of Visakhapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).

•  It is all set to make landfall close to Gopalpur in Odisha at a wind speed of at least 205 kmph on Saturday.

•  Satellite images showed the storm, in the Bay of Bengal, to be about half the size of India.”

From Quartz: “That forecast may, in fact, be conservative. Waters over the Bay of Bengal are exceptionally warm right now—more than 28°C, which is the generally agreed upon threshold above which rapid intensification of tropical cyclones is most likely. The last storm of this magnitude to hit India was the 1999 Odisha cyclone, which killed more than 10,000 people and caused $4.5 billion in damage. That storm hit the same general area that Phailin appears to be headed, at about Phailin’s predicted strength. India’s official meteorological service has had trouble keeping up with the quickly strengthening storm. In the agency’s latest official update, Phailin’s current intensity was listed as 50 mph (80 kph), weaker than current satellite estimates. That discrepancy could lead to local confusion and an underestimating of the storm’s true threat. For example, the predicted landfall intensity commonly quoted in local media on Thursday of 105-115 mph (175-185 kph) was perhaps 40 mph (70 kph) too low, according to the latest JTWC forecast and my own assessment. Also, the government’s official storm surge forecast shows a maximum value at landfall of a little over 3 feet (1 meter). The 1999 cyclone produced a storm surge of 26 feet (8 meters), a value that is not impossible with Phailin

Preparations Underway

Evacuations are underway and as residents of the area prepare for what could be a catastrophic event.

Bay of Bengal in Gokhurkuda – AP Photo

 Check back for more updates!

Meteorologist Gretchen Mishek

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