Dangerous Tropical Cyclone Phailin Headed Towards India

By Dr. Jeff Masters
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Published: 3:09 PM GMT on October 09, 2013

In the North Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal, Tropical Storm Phailin has formed off the west coast of Thailand, and is moving west-northwest towards India at 8 mph. Satellite images show that Phailin is a medium-sized storm that is increasing in organization and intensity. Water temperatures are warm, 28 - 29°C, and the ocean heat content is very high, 80 - 100 kJ/cm^2--a level often associated with rapid intensification. With wind shear low, Phailin should be able to intensify into at least a Category 1 storm before landfall occurs near 12 UTC on Saturday, as predicted by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is predicting that Phailin may be able to intensify into a Category 3 storm before landfall. The 12Z Wednesday run of the HWRF model predicted that Phailin would peak as a Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds at landfall on Saturday. The northeast coast of India where Phailin is expected to hit is vulnerable to high storm surges and is densely populated, so Phailin has the potential to be a very dangerous storm.


Figure 1. The great Odisha Cyclone of 1999 at landfall on October 19, 1999 at 05:30 UTC, as seen by the Meteosat satellite. The cyclone hit the Indian state of Odisha (formerly called Orissa) near the city of Bhubaneswar as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds, killing 9,658 people and causing $2.5 billion in damage (1999 dollars). Image credit: NOAA.

India's tropical cyclone history
Only two Bay of Bengal tropical cyclones have hit India at hurricane strength since 2000. The most recent was Cyclone Thane,  which hit Southeast India on December 30, 2011, as a Category 1 storm with 75 mph winds. Thane killed 48 people and did $250 million in damage. The most recent major tropical cyclone to hit India was the 1999 Odisha Cyclone, which hit Northeast India in the Indian state of Odisha (formerly called Orissa) near the city of Bhubaneswar as a Category 4 storm with 155 mph winds on October 29, 1999. The mighty storm, which had been at Category 5 strength with 160 mph winds and a 912 mb central pressure shortly before landfall, drove a storm surge of 26 feet (8 meters) onto the coast. The storm stalled just inland, dumping torrential rains on portions of India already saturated from the landfall of Category 4 Tropical Cyclone 04B just twelve days before. The catastrophe killed 9,658 people and left $2.5 billion in damage (1999 dollars), India's most expensive and fourth deadliest tropical cyclone in the past 100 years. Six other Indian tropical cyclones occurring before 1900 were deadlier; see wunderground's list of the 35 Deadliest Tropical Cyclones in World History. During the past two centuries, 42 percent of Earth's tropical cyclone-associated deaths have occurred in Bangladesh, and 27 percent have occurred in India (Nicholls et al., 1995.)

Wunderground's weather historian Christopher C. Burt has a detailed post on India's tropical cyclone history.

References
Nicholls, R.J.N., N. Mimura, J.C. Topping, 1995, "Climate change in south and south-east Asia: some implications for coastal areas," J Glob Environ Eng 1995;1:137–54.

Little change to 98L in the Eastern Atlantic
A tropical wave (Invest 98L) located about 400 miles south-southwest of the Cape Verde Islands is headed west to west-northwest at about 5 - 10 mph. Satellite loops show that 98L has a small area of heavy thunderstorms with a modest amount of spin. The UKMET and GFS models develop the disturbance into a tropical depression late in the week, but the European model does not. In their 8 am EDT Wednesday Tropical Weather Outlook, NHC gave the disturbance 2-day development odds of 30%, and 5-day odds of 40%. 98L's projected west-northwest track is expected take it near or just northeast of the Northern Lesser Antilles Islands around Wednesday October 16, according to the 00Z Wednesday morning runs of the GFS and European models.

Tropical Storm Nari headed towards the Philippines
In the Western Pacific, Tropical Storm Nari has formed east of the Philippines, and is expected to intensify into a Category 1 typhoon and make landfall on Luzon Island in the Philippines this weekend, and in Vietnam next week. The GFS and European models predict that a new tropical storm will form east of the Philippines late this week, but recurve to the northeast and not threaten any land areas.

Jeff Masters

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About The Author
Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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Dangerous Tropical Cyclone Phailin Headed Towards India

In the North Indian Ocean's Bay of Bengal, Tropical Storm Phailin has formed off the west coast of Thailand, and is moving west-northwest towards India at 8 mph. Satellite images show that Phailin is a medium-sized storm that is increasing in organization and intensity. Water temperatures are warm, 28 - 29°C, and the ocean heat content is very high, 80 - 100 kJ/cm^2--a level often associated with rapid intensification. With wind shear low, Phailin should be able to...

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