Is Cyclone Tauktae an indication towards a new trend for Arabian Sea?

By: |
May 17, 2021 12:35 PM

Arabian Sea is witnessing frequent cyclonic storms having strong intensities. This year, Cyclone Tauktae is an example.

Cyclone Tauktae is on its trajectory to make landfall on the shores of Gujarat. Image: IMD

Cyclones have not been uncommon in India as every year, low to moderate cyclonic storms keep hitting the Indian shores. Be it Bay of Bengal or Arabian Sea, over the last few years, many storms have formed in the bay. While the ones in Bay of Bengal have been known, Arabian Sea too is witnessing frequent cyclonic storms having strong intensities. This year, Cyclone Tauktae is an example.

Is Cyclone Tauktae a trend setter?

The cyclone hitting the western shores of India- Cyclone Tauktae is the fourth cyclone in the consecutive years to have developed in the Arabian Sea. Apart from this, the cyclones in the region usually are seen post-monsoon, however, this is also the fourth cyclone to form in the pre-monsoon period and of high intensity. A report by The IE has noted a trend in severe category cyclones forming in Arabian Sea before monsoon season begins in India.

Prior to this, Cyclone Mekanu formed in 2018 hit Oman, whereas Cyclone Vayu struck Gujarat in 2019 and Cyclone Nisarga made landfall in Maharashtra last year (2020). This year too, the cyclone is expected to hit the Gujarat shoreline of the country. Since last year, the cyclones forming in the Arabian Sea are being termed in the very severe cyclone category.

Why is Arabian Sea cyclones a concern?

The report noted that if five cyclones are developed on an average in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal combined, as many as four cyclones are in the Bay of Bengal with one forming in Arabian Sea. The reason is simple: the Bay of Bengal is warmer than the Arabian Sea, thus providing a necessary cushion for a cyclone to form. Cyclones developing on the western side of India are usually over the Lakshadweep island areas further traversing westwards, or away from the west coast of the country.

In the last few years, given the global warming, meteorologists have seen changes in the temperature of the Arabian Sea. This can likely be the reason for increased cyclonic activities in the area.

Why does the cyclone intensify?

All tropical cyclones are in need of energy to stay alive and this kind of is can be obtained from warm water as well as humid air over the tropical ocean. As the heat is released via condensation of water vapour, a steep drop in the pressure can be seen. This means heat released is directly proportional to the drop in pressure. With a low-pressure system, there are multiple stages of intensification in order for a cyclone to form.

Notably, in case of Cyclone Tauktae in the Arabian Sea, the sea water has been quite warm even till the depth of 50 metres. Now is enough to supply an ample amount of energy to intensify Cyclone Tauktae and make it severe.

Meanwhile, cyclones forming during the pre-monsoon period (May-June) and post-monsoon period (October-November) have been known to produce severe intensity cyclones.

What is the current trajectory of Cyclone Tauktae?

As of Monday, the Cyclone Tauktae is on its trajectory to make landfall on the shores of Gujarat by early morning of Tuesday (May 18). The cyclone is expected to intensify even more before it makes the landfall. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has predicted the cyclone to take a track close to Porbandar and Mahuva in Gujarat’s Bhavnagar district. The wind speed of the cyclone is expected to be around 150-160 km/hr gusting to 175 km/hr.

As many as 12 districts of Gujarat are expected to witness heavy to very heavy rain and storms. These districts include Kutch, Porbandar, Saurashtra, Bhavnagar, Junagarh, Surat, Ahmedabad, Amreli, Valsad, and Anand and Bharuch, along with the Union Territory of Diu.

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