Ahmedabad, India: A major new storm was brewing in the Bay of Bengal off India’s east coast, forecasters warned Thursday, just days after the biggest cyclone to hit the west of the country in decades left at least 110 people confirmed dead.
Indian states of West Bengal, Odhisa began preparations to face the cyclone, ensuring shelter, medical, water, and food supplies were adequate.
Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee and Oshisha Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep K Jena ordered special task forces to begin pre-storm preparations.
The development comes as India reels from the devastating aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae that ravaged Southern India.
Rumors about an Amphan-like super cyclone went rife on social media, which the IMD debunked as a potential, not necessarily a definitive development.
However, in hours, the IMD belled the alarm. IMD officials said they cannot rule out the possibility that Yaas will intensify like Amphan.
“We cannot rule out an Amphan-like intensification. The only good thing is that models as of now are showing that the system is moving very fast over the sea. Its intensification will be restricted if its time overseas is less,” Sunitha Devi, who tracks cyclones at IMD, told the Hindustan Times.
Scientists say cyclones in the region are becoming both more frequent and stronger as climate change leads to warmer sea temperatures.
Cyclone Tauktae pummelled India’s western coast late Monday and left a trail of destruction, compounding the misery for a country struggling with a devastating surge in coronavirus cases.
Even before it made landfall in Gujarat state, with gusts up to 185 kilometers (115 miles) per hour, heavy rains at its outer bands, and strong winds killed around 20 people in western and southern India.
In Gujarat where winds smashed windows, felled tens of thousands of trees, and knocked out power for huge numbers of people, the number of dead rose to 53, officials said late Wednesday.
The toll could rise further, however, with local newspapers saying almost 80 people had died in the state, many killed by collapsing houses or walls.
The cyclone weakened into a depression as it moved across northern India, dumping heavy rain as it did so including in Allahabad and New Delhi, which had its wettest May day on record.
The Navy said meanwhile that 37 bodies had been recovered after an oil installation vessel sank in the heavy seas. Thirty-eight people remain missing.
In its latest warning, the Indian Meteorological Department said that a low-pressure area was likely to form on Saturday in the Bay of Bengal off India’s east coast.
The system was “very likely” to intensify gradually into a cyclonic storm, which would reach the coasts of the eastern states of West Bengal and Odisha on May 26.
Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Odisha, West Bengal, Assam, and Meghalaya are expected to experience mild to moderate rainfall from the evening of May 25, with heavy showers in isolated areas, according to the weather department.
Last year May, super cyclone Amphan devastated the Eastern India bringing winds as high as 200 km/hr, that swept across villages and towns, uprooting trees, houses and killing dozens.