With Cyclone Fani Wreaking Havoc In Odisha, Here's Why Most Cyclones Hit India'a East Coast

Published : 3 May 2019 10:39 AM GMT
With Cyclone Fani Wreaking Havoc In Odisha, HereImage Credit: Newsweek, The Times Of India  

Cyclone Fani, which has been named by Bangladesh, has hit Odisha as an extremely severe cyclonic storm, after making its landfall on the eastern coast in Puri.

In 2018, the Tamil Nadu coast was battered by Cyclone Gaja, which caused widespread destruction and killed at least 20 people. The same year, Cyclone Titli tore into the country, making its landfall in Andhra Pradesh and South Odisha coast near 18.8 *N and 84.5* E, with a wind speed of 140-150 kmph.

Why do most cyclones hit India’s east coast?

Interestingly, 26 of the 35 deadliest cyclones in the past turned out to be Bay of Bengal storms, with Bangladesh witnessing the most casualties. Casualties in Bangladesh accounted for as much as 40 per cent of the deaths caused by tropical cyclones in the past two centuries in the world. India, on the other hand, accounts for a quarter of the deaths. Odisha has seen 98 cyclones between 1891 and 2002, which is the highest in India. However, in recent times, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh have witnessed the most casualties.

The eastern coast of India has a long history of devastating cyclones. Since 1990, the worst of these include the Great Orissa Cyclone of 1999, which was classified as a super cyclonic storm. Making its landfall with 155 mph winds and a storm surge of 26 feet, this cyclone killed 9,000 to 10,000 people.

Most of the fatal tropical storms in the world have taken place in the Bay of Bengal. The deadliest of all was the Great Boha Cyclone of November 1970, which ended up causing massive destruction to the delta islands of the Brahmaputra and Ganges rivers in Bangladesh.

Wind patterns, which tend to keep winds cooler on the western side, cause more cyclones to form in the Bay of Bengal than the Arabian Sea. Many of those which are formed along the western coast tend to move towards Oman and not hit Indian shores. Storms formed on the eastern coast are also more intense than those caused on the western coast. States on the eastern side having relatively flatter topography are unable to deflect the winds.

Although April to December is the cyclone season, more than 65% of all cyclones generally take place during the last four months of the year. Cyclones are classified on the basis of the speed of the wind around the low-pressure area. Those with a wind speed of more than 62 kmph are called tropical cyclones and assigned a name. If the wind speed is between 89 and 118 kmph, it becomes a severe cyclonic storm. Further, it becomes a very severe cyclonic storm if the wind speed is between 119 and 221 kmph. Those with speeds higher than this are categorised into super cyclonic storms.

Also Read: Gaja, Titli, Ockhi; Know How Tropical Storms Are Named

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