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‘It Did Not Recurve’: Why Did Cyclone Asani Deviate from Its Path And Storm The Andhra Coast?

It was all going properly till the penultimate day. Severe cyclonic storm Asani intensified quickly over the Bay of Bengal and superior in direction of India’s east coast until Tuesday night as predicted. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) was constructive that the storm, in all probability, would recurve in direction of the ocean when it reached close to the north Andhra Pradesh coast, and finally fizzle out.

But the plan went awry. The cyclone didn’t flip.

Instead, it slowly moved in direction of Andhra Pradesh on Wednesday night and crossed the coast between Machilipatnam and Narsapur between 5.30 pm and seven.30 pm whereas weakening right into a deep despair. Winds with speeds of 55-75 km per hour gusting as much as 75 km per hour lashed the coastal districts, coupled with extraordinarily heavy rains.

The predictions

In its earlier forecast on May 9, IMD had indicated that the storm was unlikely to make landfall over the east coast, and recurve and transfer in direction of northwest Bay of Bengal off Odisha coast. On May 10, it revised its forecast, suggesting that the cyclone was prone to transfer alongside the Narsapur, Yanam, Kakinada, Tuni, and Visakhapatnam coasts and emerge into west-central Bay of Bengal off north Andhra Pradesh coasts by Wednesday evening. But early on May 11, the day it made its landfall, the IMD issued a cyclone warning for Andhra Pradesh. The climate division additionally swiftly added a storm surge warning of 0.5 m, anticipating inundation of low-lying areas of Krishna, East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh, and Yanam of Puducherry. But it maintained that evacuation wouldn’t be needed.

(From high to backside) Cyclone Asani forecasts on May 9, 10 and 11.

“It was 50:50,” mentioned Dr M Mohapatra, director-general at IMD, New Delhi, whereas speaking in regards to the cyclone path. “A mid-latitude westerly trough was approaching, and the forecast models suggested that it would counter the cyclone in the sea and steer it north-northeastwards. But that did not happen because the height of the cyclone had decreased as it weakened into a deep depression near the coast. By the time, the cyclone had already moved a little ahead and crossed the coast. However, even then, it remained half over the land, and half over the sea.”

The mid-latitude trough is mainly a low-pressure climate system that’s an indicator of a shift within the wind, and meteorologists anticipated that it might push the cyclone in direction of the ocean.

The IMD, nevertheless, exuded confidence that it was capable of forecast the depth proper from the beginning, and that ensured the injury was minimised. “The re-curvature did not happen. But either way, we were certain that by the time it would reach near the coast, it would lose its intensity, and the damage would be minimised. There were timely warnings of inundation of low-lying areas, heavy rains, wind gusts, and tidal wave warnings for fishermen,” mentioned the IMD chief. “What reached the coast were remnants of the cyclone which caused heavy rains. So, our intensity forecast was perfect.”

Stalled within the sea

Another problem that Cyclone Asani threw at meteorologists was its tendency to stagnate for longer durations, because it moved nearer to the coast. One of the components was the comparatively cooler sea waters close to the coast that calmed the raging storm.

According to senior scientist Dr KJ Ramesh, former head at IMD, the cyclone not solely intensified quickly, nevertheless it additionally weakened comparatively quicker which was well-predicted by IMD. It grew from a low-pressure system right into a Severe Cyclone inside three days, because it superior from the South Andaman Sea in direction of the west-central Bay of Bengal at a velocity of about 25kmph. But simply when it was reaching nearer to the coast, it started to decelerate and remained virtually stationary for lengthy hours. The velocity dropped to 6km/hour simply whereas it was barely 40 km southeast of Machilipatnam in opposition to the conventional velocity of 13 km/hour. This led to additional cooling of the waters close to the coast. There was additionally chilly and dry incursion from the land, that weakened the storm additional. Even after it made its landfall over the coast, it remained virtually stagnant for a number of hours, whereas progressively turning into weaker.

“Ocean situations have additionally been altering the form and traits of the cyclones,” said Ramesh. “Ultimately, it is a seesaw effect between the transient systems like a cyclone and the larger atmospheric circulation. The ocean heat content that powers these storms was low over the west-central Bay of Bengal, so it was certain that it would weaken. But it is the concurrent conditions of land and sea that decide which way a cyclone will eventually go. In either case, the storm was expected to weaken which it did, and not cause major damage. So, adequate warning was in place.”

The last noticed observe of Cyclone Asani.

The newest updates present that the system slowly moved south-southwestwards and remained virtually stationary over the identical area in coastal Andhra Pradesh for over a number of hours, and continued to dissipate. By Thursday night, it had already develop into a well-marked low-pressure space, bringing heavy rains over Rayalaseema, north coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh, and japanese elements of Karnataka.

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