Cyclone Hudhud Makes Landfall on India’s East Coast

By Ketaki Gokhale and Siddharth Philip | October 13, 2014

Cyclone Hudhud made landfall on India’s eastern coast on Sunday, Oct. 12 with gusts as strong as 195 kilometers per hour, according to the India Meteorological Department.

With winds averaging 170 to 180 kilometers per hour, the cyclone may cause more damage as they lash back after the eye of the storm passes over Vishakhapatnam city, Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of the weather bureau, said in a phone interview. The cyclone, classified as a very severe storm, has killed two people along the coast north of Vishakhapatnam city, according to CNN-IBN TV channel.

The northern coast of Andhra Pradesh state experienced the strongest winds and heavy rainfall, and the intensity will taper by half by around 6 p.m. local time today, said Rathore. The National Disaster Response Force has 200 boats in the region and has stationed 1,573 troops in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha to keep a watch on low-lying districts and coastal areas, spokesman Anil Shekhawat said yesterday.

“Precautionary measures have already been taken, and we are waiting to see what the situation is” once the eye passes over Vishakhapatnam city, Shekhawat said in a phone interview from New Delhi Sunday.

Last year, a cyclone named Phailin, meaning sapphire in Thai, killed at least 17 people and damaged vast swaths of rice crops when it hit India’s eastern coast on Oct. 12. Twenty-six of the world’s 35 deadliest tropical cyclones, the storms that include hurricanes and typhoons, have occurred in the Bay of Bengal, Jeff Masters, founder of Weather Underground in Ann Arbor, Michigan, said last year.

Hudhud, named after a colorful bird found across Afro- Eurasia, is “slightly less” intense than Phailin, the meteorological department’s Rathore said Saturday.

[According to catastrophe modeling firm AIR Wolrdwide, historically, the dominant construction type in India has been unreinforced masonry made from adobe, rubble stone, or burnt brick. Unreinforced masonry is still pervasive throughout rural India in low- and mid-rise residential and commercial structures.

Increasingly, however, modern urban buildings in India are employing more durable construction types, such as confined masonry and reinforced concrete. Moreover, these buildings are subject to better construction practices and stricter code enforcement. This is particularly true of new high-rise buildings, which are generally made of reinforced concrete.

Extensive damage is expected to poorly constructed homes, including to mud and thatched roof structures common in fishing villages along India’s eastern coast, according to AIR.

AIR said that storm surge—possibly up to two meters—is also a major concern in these low-lying locations. Structures in these areas are uninsured and personal property is not adequately insured even in urban areas. Crops are likewise largely uninsured. In contrast, industrial risks, including energy, oil, and gas plants in the affected region, are insured against natural disasters, according to AIR.]

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