Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy struck India recently, emerging as the most powerful cyclone to hit the country in over a decade, leaving a trail of destruction and claiming numerous lives. Originating as a deep depression over the southeast Arabian Sea, it rapidly intensified into a very severe cyclone storm. However, it gradually weakened and transformed into a very severe cyclonic storm. The cyclone was predicted to move northwards at a speed of five kilometers per hour, positioned approximately 290 km southwest of Gujarat’s Porbandar. Its projected path included crossing Gujarat’s Saurashtra and Kutch regions, as well as the adjacent Pakistani coasts.
What is a cyclone?
A cyclone is a large, rotating storm that develops over warm, moisture-laden ocean waters. These storms thrive on the heat and moisture provided by the sun. Cyclones can cause a wide range of devastating effects, such as storm surges, powerful winds, torrential rainfall, and extensive flooding.
Formation of The Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy
The Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy originated in the Bay of Bengal on May 1, 2023. Over the following days, it underwent rapid intensification, reaching its peak strength on May 5. At its height, Biparjoy boasted sustained winds of 200 kilometers per hour and a minimum central pressure of 940 millibars.
The Significance of the Name ‘Biparjoy’
The cyclonic storm, Biparjoy, derived its name from Bangladesh. Pronounced as ‘Biporjoy’ in Bangla, the word translates to ‘disaster.’
The naming convention followed the guidelines established by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Cyclones worldwide receive names from a predetermined list on a rotational basis. For instance, the list used in 2015 will be reused in 2021. In the region covering the Atlantic and the Southern Hemisphere (Indian Ocean and South Pacific), 13 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, participate in the naming process. The Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in New Delhi is responsible for naming tropical cyclones forming over the northern Indian Ocean, encompassing the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.
Guidelines for Naming Cyclones
The process of naming cyclones adheres to certain guidelines, which are as follows:
- Political, religious, cultural, and gender-neutral: The proposed name should not have any political, religious, or cultural connotations and must be gender-neutral.
- Sensitivity: The chosen name should not hurt the sentiments of any group of people worldwide.
- Non-offensive: The name should be devoid of rudeness or cruelty.
- Simplicity and brevity: The name should be concise, easy to pronounce, and not offensive to any individual.
- Length restriction: The name should not exceed eight letters.
- Next in line: Following Bangladesh’s suggestion, the subsequent cyclone will be named ‘Tej’ as per India’s recommendation.
The Impact of The Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy
Cyclone Biparjoy wreaked havoc across India, resulting in extensive damage and loss of life. Coastal areas experienced storm surges, leading to widespread flooding. The powerful winds caused substantial damage to buildings and infrastructure, while the heavy rainfall triggered landslides, mudslides, and crop destruction. Overall, the estimated damage caused by the Tropical Cyclone Biparjoy exceeded $1 billion, and the death toll surpassed 1,000 individuals.
India’s Vulnerability to Cyclones
India’s geographical location exposes it to frequent cyclonic activity. The Bay of Bengal, characterized by warm, shallow waters, provides ideal conditions for cyclone formation. Furthermore, India’s extensive coastline, which remains exposed, increases its susceptibility to storm surges.
India’s Cyclone Disaster Management Strategy
To tackle cyclones effectively, India has implemented several measures, including:
- Early warning systems: India boasts a well-established early warning system capable of detecting cyclones and disseminating timely alerts to coastal communities.
- Evacuation protocols: Coastal areas prone to cyclones evacuate residents to safer regions when a cyclone threat looms.
- Disaster relief efforts: In the aftermath of a cyclone, the Indian government mobilizes resources to provide relief and aid to affected communities.
Mitigating Cyclone Risks
Several steps can be taken to reduce the risks associated with cyclones and mitigate their impact:
- Investment in early warning systems: Continual improvement and investment in early warning systems ensure prompt detection and dissemination of cyclone-related information.
- Development of evacuation plans: Formulating comprehensive evacuation plans aids in relocating people from vulnerable areas to safer locations swiftly.
- Construction of disaster-resistant infrastructure: Building structures and infrastructure that can withstand cyclonic forces minimizes damage and protects lives.
- Raising awareness: Educating the population about the dangers of cyclones and promoting preparedness measures is crucial for ensuring safety.
India continues to enhance its cyclone disaster management strategy. The government is investing in advanced early warning systems, formulating better evacuation plans, and constructing more resilient infrastructure. Moreover, efforts are being made to raise awareness about cyclone risks and educate the population on how to prepare for such events.
Through these proactive measures, India can effectively mitigate the risks posed by cyclones. Cyclones occur in India due to its location in the tropical region. The Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, characterized by warm, shallow waters, provide the ideal conditions for cyclone formation. The monsoon season, spanning from June to September, creates favorable conditions for cyclones, as warm, moist air from the Indian Ocean interacts with the landmass, leading to unstable atmospheric conditions conducive to cyclone development.
Which regions in India most prone to cyclones
The regions in India most prone to cyclones include:
- The east coast, spanning from West Bengal to Andhra Pradesh.
- The west coast, stretching from Gujarat to Kerala.
- The Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
These areas fall within tropical cyclone belts and are susceptible to the adverse effects of cyclones, including powerful winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges.
Factors contributing to the vulnerability
The factors contributing to the vulnerability of these areas to cyclones include:
- Shallow water: The Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, being shallow, maintain warmer water temperatures than deeper regions, providing the energy required for cyclone formation.
- Warm, moist air: During the monsoon season, warm, moisture-laden air from the Indian Ocean flows over the land, creating unstable atmospheric conditions conducive to cyclone formation.
- Geography: The east coast of India comprises a long, low-lying coastline directly exposed to the Bay of Bengal, rendering it highly vulnerable to storm surges.
- Population density: The east coast of India is densely populated, amplifying the potential impact of cyclones on human lives and infrastructure.
Cyclones can cause significant damage, including:
- Loss of life: Cyclones pose a severe threat to human life, particularly in coastal regions.
- Property damage: The destructive power of cyclones can lead to extensive damage to buildings, infrastructure, and other property.
- Economic disruptions: Cyclones disrupt various economic activities, such as fishing, tourism, and agriculture, impacting the livelihoods of communities.
Cyclones are natural hazards capable of causing immense damage and loss of life. Given India’s vulnerability to cyclones, the country has implemented various measures to tackle these disasters. By investing in early warning systems, developing evacuation plans, constructing disaster-resistant infrastructure, and raising awareness about cyclone risks, India can significantly reduce the impact and risks associated with cyclones.
India’s proactive measures, including robust early warning systems, evacuation protocols, and disaster relief efforts, aim to mitigate the impact of cyclones. Nevertheless, cyclones can still result in substantial damage and loss of life. It is crucial for individuals to remain aware of the risks posed by cyclones and take necessary precautions to ensure their safety during such events.
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