Cyclone Amphan is all over the news this week. It is being regarded as one of the worst storms to have occurred in the Bay of Bengal. This particular region is prone to cyclones which is why the concerned authorities here are always on their toes to deal with a situation like this. Just last year, the region was hit by cyclone Fani. In spite of all the preparedness, cyclone Amphan is proving to be quite a devastating storm. Many facing the storm claim they have never seen anything like this before. The cyclone is so powerful that it has flooded major parts of Kolkata, amongst other parts of West Bengal and Odisha. Here is a ten-point breakdown of what exactly this cyclone is and its impact on the affected areas:
1. The Amphan storm, charged by the warm waters of the Bay of Bengal, made landfall near the town Digha in West Bengal on 19 May 2020 around 4 P.M. It is one of the strongest cyclones ever recorded in this area.
2. The storm’s wind speed was between 155-165 kilometre per hour( kmph) in some places. It has already caused irrecoverable damage in terms of loss of lives, uprooting trees, destroying many buildings as well as power lines in many parts of Odisha and West Bengal.
3. While the cyclone by itself is devastating enough, authorities are facing a double-edged sword. Saving people from the cyclone while ensuring their protection against the coronavirus is proving to be challenging. Authorities are finding it difficult to rescue and arrange stay for people from the affected villages while ensuring social distancing. Reports suggest that approximately 3 lakh people have been moved from the affected areas in 12,078 relief shelters situated in 19 coastal districts.
4. The meaning of the word Amphan, pronounced as “Um-pun,” is the sky. The name was given by Thailand in 2004. Cyclones around the world are named by Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs) and Regional Specialised Meteorological Centres (RSMCs). For the Indian Ocean region, thirteen countries in the region – Thailand, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Oman, Yemen, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Qatar, Myanmar, Maldives, Bangladesh and India contribute to naming the cyclones.
5. The storm passed over the Sundarbans – the world’s largest mangrove forest, home to many rare animals and birds. It has the biggest remaining population the Bengal Tigers in the world.
6. While the Sundarbans may have acted as a buffer against the cyclone, taking the blow and giving some time for the villages around to evacuate, the wildlife inside may have suffered adversely. The impact is yet to be determined.
7. The reason why Amphan grew powerful initially was that the waters it passed over were increasingly warm, as high as 88 degrees in parts of the Indian Ocean. The energy that fuels such rotating storms is derived from warmer water.
8. Climate change is causing ocean temperatures to rise globally. While it can’t be said with certainty that climate change is what accounts for Amphan’s devastating strength, the fact remains that scientists have been sounding the alarm that such cyclones would occur if factors like global warming are ignored.
9. Almost the entire city of Kolkata is flooded due to cyclone Amphan. Most of the people are experiencing a disruption in cellular networks and electricity supply.
10. A storm is a violent disturbance of the atmosphere with strong winds and usually rain, thunder, lightning, or snow. Usually, storms have a wind speed of more than 90 kmph. Landfall is the event when a storm moves over land after being over water. Whether a storm is a hurricane, cyclone or typhoon is decided by its location. If a storm is brewing in the areas North Atlantic, northeastern Pacific, the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico then it is termed as a hurricane. If it is in the northwestern Pacific and threatens Asia, then it is a Typhoon. Similarly, for storms over the Arabian Sea, Bay of Bengal, Indian Ocean, and South Pacific Ocean are referred to as tropical cyclones.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by cyclone Amphan. The Howrah Municipal Corporation recently announced a 24×7 helpline number – 033-2637-1735 for people who are stranded in the storm or have family members who are stranded anywhere in this natural disaster.
Charu, a feminist and an accidental writer, is yet to master the art of writing about herself. Always curious to learn new stuff, she ends up spending a lot of time unlearning the incorrect lessons. She enjoys all sorts of stories – real, fictional, new, old, hers and would love hearing yours too. Feel free to ping her at [email protected] to share anything that you think is worth sharing.
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