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Cyclones

This topic ocvers the information related to Cyclones, recovery, Do's and Dont's

Information

Cyclones are caused by atmospheric disturbances around a low-pressure area distinguished by swift and often destructive air circulation. Cyclones are usually accompanied by violent storms and bad weather. The air circulates inward in an anticlockwise direction in the Northern hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern hemisphere. Cyclones are classified as: (i) extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and (ii) tropical cyclones. The word Cyclone is derived from the Greek word Cyclos meaning the coils of a snake. It was coined by Henry Peddington because the tropical storms in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea appear like coiled serpents of the sea.

Classifications

Cyclones are classified as extra tropical cyclones (also called temperate cyclones); and tropical cyclones.

The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO, 1976) uses the term 'Tropical Cyclone’ to cover weather systems in which winds exceed ‘Gale Force’ (minimum of 34 knots or 63 kph). Tropical cyclones are the progeny of ocean and atmosphere, powered by the heat from the sea; and driven by easterly trades and temperate westerlies, high planetary winds and their own fierce energy.

In India, cyclones are classified by:

  • Strength of associated winds,
  • Storm surges
  • Exceptional rainfall occurrences.

Extra tropical cyclones occur in temperate zones and high latitude regions, though they are known to originate in the Polar Regions.

Cyclones that develop in the regions between the Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer are called tropical cyclones. Tropical cyclones are large-scale weather systems developing over tropical or subtropical waters, where they get organized into surface wind circulation.

Worldwide terminology

Cyclones are given many names in different regions of the world – They are known as typhoons in the China Sea and Pacific Ocean; hurricanes in the West Indian islands in the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean; tornados in the Guinea lands of West Africa and southern USA.; willy-willies in north-western Australia and tropical cyclones in the Indian Ocean.

Indian Meteorological Department

The criteria below have been formulated by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), which classifies the low pressure systems in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea on the basis of capacity to damage, which is adopted by the WMO.

Type of Disturbances Wind Speed in Km/h Wind Speed in Knots
Low Pressure Less than 31 Less than 17
Depression 31-49 17-27
Deep Depression 49-61 27-33
Cyclonic Storm 61-88 33-47
Severe Cyclonic Storm 88-117 47-63
Super Cyclone More than 221 More than 120

1 knot - 1.85 km per hour

Cyclones are classified into five different levels on the basis of wind speed. They are further divided into the following categories according to their capacity to cause damage:-

Cyclone Category Wind Speed in Km/h Damage Capacity
1 120-150 Minimal
2 150-180 Moderate
3 180-210 Extensive
4 210-250 Extreme
5 250 and above Catastrophic

Storm surges (tidal waves) are defined as the rise in sea level above the normally predicted astronomical tide. Major factors include:

  • A fall in the atmospheric pressure over the sea surface
  • Effect of the wind
  • Influence of the sea bed
  • A funnelling effect
  • The angle and speed at which the storm approaches the coast
  • The tides

The very high specific humidity condenses into exceptionally large raindrops and giant cumulus clouds, resulting in high precipitation rates. When a cyclone makes landfall, rain rapidly saturates the catchment areas and the rapid runoff may extensively flood the usual water sources or create new ones.

How Cyclones are formed

The development cycle of tropical cyclones may be divided into three stages:

Formation and Initial Development Stage

The formation and initial development of a cyclonic storm depends upon various conditions. These are:

  • A warm sea (a temperature in excess of 26 degrees Celsius to a depth of 60 m) with abundant and turbulent transfer of water vapour to the overlying atmosphere by evaporation.
  • Atmospheric instability encouraging formation of massive vertical cumulus clouds due to convection with condensation of rising air above ocean surface.

Mature Tropical Cyclones

When a tropical storm intensifies, the air rises in vigorous thunderstorms and tends to spread out horizontally at the tropopause level. Once air spreads out, a positive perturbation pressure at high levels is produced, which accelerates the downward motion of air due to convection. With the inducement of subsidence, air warms up by compression and a warm ‘Eye’ is generated. Generally, the ‘Eye’ of the storms has three basic shapes: (i) circular; (ii) concentric; and (iii) elliptical. The main physical feature of a mature tropical cyclone in the Indian Ocean is a concentric pattern of highly turbulent giant cumulus thundercloud bands.

Modification and Decay

A tropical cyclone begins to weaken in terms of its central low pressure, internal warmth and extremely high speeds, as soon as its source of warm moist air begins to ebb, or is abruptly cut off. This happens after its landfall or when it passes over cold waters. The weakening of a cyclone does not mean that the danger to life and property is over.

Indian Context

The Indian subcontinent is one of the worst affected regions in the world. The subcontinent with a long coastline of 8041 kilometres is exposed to nearly 10 per cent of the world’s tropical cyclones. Of these, the majority of them have their initial genesis over the Bay of Bengal and strike the East coast of India. On an average, five to six tropical cyclones form every year, of which two or three could be severe. More cyclones occur in the Bay of Bengal than the Arabian Sea and the ratio is approximately 4:1. Cyclones occur frequently on both the coasts (the West coast - Arabian Sea; and the East coast - Bay of Bengal). An analysis of the frequency of cyclones on the East and West coasts of India between 1891 and 1990 shows that nearly 262 cyclones occurred (92 of these severe) in a 50 km wide strip above the East coast. Less severe cyclonic activity has been noticed on the West coast, where 33 cyclones occurred the same period, out of which 19 of were severe.

Tropical cyclones occur in the months of May-June and October-November. Cyclones of severe intensity and frequency in the North Indian Ocean are bi-modal in character, with their primary peak in November and secondary peak in May. The disaster potential is particularly high during landfall in the North Indian Ocean (Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) due to the accompanying destructive wind, storm surges and torrential rainfall. Of these, storm surges cause the most damage as sea water inundates low lying areas of coastal regions and causes heavy floods, erodes beaches and embankments, destroys vegetation and reduces soil fertility.

Cyclones vary in diameter from 50 to 320 km but their effects dominate thousands of square kilometers of ocean surface and the lower atmosphere. The perimeter may measure 1,000 km but the powerhouse is located within the 100-km radius. Nearer the Eye, winds may hit at a speed of 320 km. Thus, tropical cyclones, characterized by destructive winds, torrential rainfall and storm surges disrupt normal life with the  accompanying phenomena of floods due to the exceptional level of rainfall and storm surge inundation into inland areas. Cyclones are characterized by their devastating potential to damage structures, viz. houses; lifeline infrastructure-power and communication towers; hospitals; food storage facilities; roads, bridges and culverts; cropss etc. The most fatalities come from storm surges and the torrential rain flooding the lowland areas of coastal territories.

Zone Map

cyclone details

Do's and Dont's

Before the Cyclone season

  • Check the house; secure loose tiles and carry out repairs of doors and windows
  • Remove dead branches or dying trees close to the house; anchor removable objects such as lumber piles, loose tin sheets, loose bricks, garbage cans, sign-boards etc. which can fly in strong winds
  • Keep some wooden boards ready so that glass windows can be boarded if needed
  • Keep a hurricane lantern filled with kerosene, battery operated torches and enough dry cells
  • Demolish condemned buildings
  • Keep some extra batteries for transistors
  • Keep some dry non-perishable food always ready for use in emergency

Necessary actions

  • The actions that need to be taken in the event of a cyclone threat can broadly be divided into :
  • Immediately before the cyclone season
  • When cyclone alerts and warnings are communicated
  • When evacuations are advised
  • When the cyclone has crossed the coast

When the Cyclone starts

  • Listen to the radio (All India Radio stations give weather warnings).
  • Keep monitoring the warnings. This will help you prepare for a cyclone emergency.
  • Pass the information to others.
  • Ignore rumours and do not spread them; this will help to avoid panic situations.
  • Believe in the official information
  • When a cyclone alert is on for your area continue normal working but stay alert to the radio warnings.
  • Stay alert for the next 24 hours as a cyclone alert means that the danger is within 24 hours.

When your area is under cyclone warning get away from low-lying beaches or other low-lying areas close to the coast

  • Leave early before your way to high ground or shelter gets flooded
  • Do not delay and run the risk of being marooned
  • If your house is securely built on high ground take shelter in the safe part of the house. However, if asked to evacuate do not hesitate to leave the place.
  • Board up glass windows or put storm shutters in place.
  • Provide strong suitable support for outside doors.
  • If you do not have wooden boards handy, paste paper strips on glasses to prevent splinters. However, this may not avoid breaking windows.
  • Get extra food, which can be eaten without cooking. Store extra drinking water in suitably covered vessels.
  • If you have to evacuate the house move your valuable articles to upper floors to minimize flood damage.
  • Ensure that your hurricane lantern, torches or other emergency lights are in working condition and keep them handy.
  • Small and loose things, which can fly in strong winds, should be stored safely in a room.
  • Be sure that a window and door can be opened only on the side opposite to the one facing the wind.
  • Make provision for children and adults requiring special diet.
  • If the centre of the cyclone is passing directly over your house there will be a lull in the wind and rain lasting for half an hour or so. During this time do not go out; because immediately after that, very strong winds will blow from the opposite direction.
  • Switch off the electrical mains in your house.
  • Remain calm.

When Evacuation is instructed

  • Pack essentials for yourself and your family to last a few days. These should include medicines, special food for babies and children or elders.
  • Head for the proper shelter or evacuation points indicated for your area.
  • Do not worry about your property
  • At the shelter follow instructions of the person in charge.
  • Remain in the shelter until you are informed to leave

Post-cyclone measures

  • You should remain in the shelter until informed that you can return to your home.
  • You must get inoculated against diseases immediately.
  • Strictly avoid any loose and dangling wires from lamp posts.
  • If you have to drive, do drive carefully.
  • Clear debris from your premises immediately.
  • Report the correct losses to appropriate authorities.

Recover and Build

After ‘All Clear’ is issued for back movement by ‘State’ gives attention to the following:

  • Whether ‘roads’ for reaching home is recommended by authorities
  • Whether power lines are safe
  • Whether transport arrangement is approved by authorities
  • Pure drinking water is available
  • Sewage lines are working
  • Any epidemic spread in the area
  • Safety of neighbor(s) assured

Emergency Kit

  • Battery operated torch
  • Extra batteries
  • Battery operated radio
  • First aid kit and essential medicines
  • Important papers (Ration card, Voter ID card, Aadhar card etc)
  • Emergency food (dry items) and water (packed and sealed)
  • Candles and matches in a waterproof container
  • Knife
  • Chlorine tablets or powdered water purifiers
  • Cash, Aadhar Card and Ration Card
  • Thick ropes and cords
  • Shoes

Projects and Schemes

National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project

Indian coasts are highly vulnerable to tropical cyclones and consequent recurrent loss of life and property. Recognizing this, the Government of India has considered the hazard risk mitigation approach through short term and long term measures, which lay greater emphasis on prevention, preparedness and mitigation. With this in view, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Government of India conceptualized a comprehensive National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Strategy through several consultations, ending with a National Workshop, in 2003, "Developing Strategy for Cyclone Mitigation in the Coastal and Island Regions of India" . To give effect to the strategic interventions, the Ministry of Home Affairs decided to put in place the "National Cyclone Risk Mitigation Project". After the formation of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), the management of the Project was transferred to NDMA in September, 2006. This is the first such effort at the national level with World Bank assistance to cover 13 coastal states and UTs.

Source: National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), Government of India

3.11486486486
Ananthu as Dec 19, 2018 09:21 AM

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