Cyclone Amphan Intensifies, Threatening India, Bangladesh with Dangerous Storm Surge

May 18, 2020

Tropical Cyclone Amphan has intensified into the equivalent of a Category 5 storm as it tracks toward India and Bangladesh through the Bay of Bengal

Maximum sustained winds in Cyclone Amphan increased from 75 mph to 160 mph in just 24 hours from Sunday afternoon into Monday afternoon, India time, said a report issued by Weather.com meteologists.

Weather.com noted that peak impacts from the storm are likely to occur from late Tuesday through Wednesday local time, with its center crossing the coast between Kolkata, India, and Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Wednesday morning.

Storm Surge

The report warned that eastern India and Bangladesh are potentially vulnerable to catastrophic storm surge as a result of Amphan’s large size and extreme intensity, which will push a large amount of water northward through the Bay of Bengal.

A storm surge of up to 13 to 16 feet is possible over parts of West Bengal, with 10 to 13 feet possible into Bangladesh, said the Weather.com report, quoting India’s Meteorological Department (IMD).

The center of Amphan should cross the coast between Kolkata, India, and Chittagong, Bangladesh, on Wednesday morning local time.

Tropical Cyclones in Bay of Bengal

The triangular shape of the Bay of Bengal acts as a funnel pushing storm-surge waters into Bangladesh, said the report, noting that, as a result, storm surge has been the big killer in the most deadly Bay of Bengal cyclones.

“During the past two centuries, 42% of the Earth’s tropical cyclone-associated deaths have occurred in Bangladesh and 27% have occurred in India,” said Weather.com. “The deadliest storm in world history, the 1970 Bhola Cyclone of 1970, killed an estimated 300,000 to 500,000 when it made landfall in Bangladesh on Nov. 12, bringing a storm surge estimated at up to 10.4 meters (34 feet) to the coast.”

About Weather.com

Weather.com is a sister company of Weather Underground, both of which are subsidiaries of IBM.

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