A severe cyclone is roaring in the Arabian Sea off south-western India with winds of almost 90mph, already causing heavy rains and flooding that have killed at least six people.
Cyclone Tauktae, the season’s first major storm, is expected to make landfall on Tuesday in Gujarat state, the India Meteorological Department said.
The massive storm is likely to hamper India’s fight against a coronavirus surge that is sweeping the country with devastating death tolls, as lockdown measures may slow relief work and damage from the storm could potentially destroy roads and cut vital supply lines.
and the remaining coastal districts of Gujarat) are likely to inundate the coastal areas of Gujarat during the time of landfall. pic.twitter.com/wZhhNLOOMw— India Meteorological Department (@Indiametdept) May 16, 2021
In areas along the Arabian Sea coast, 73 villages were badly damaged amid severe conditions on Sunday.
Nearly 2,500 government rescuer workers have been deployed in six states on Cyclone Tauktae’s path – Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa – equipped with wireless radios, satellite phones, cutters and tools needed for post-cyclone operations.
The storm, moving at a speed of 7mph, is currently about 400 miles south-southeast of Veraval in Gujarat.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday reviewed with officials the preparedness of states to deal with the cyclone.
The region is no stranger to devastating cyclones, but changing climate patterns have caused them to become more intense, rather than more frequent.
Last cyclone season, KJ Ramesh, the former chief of India’s weather agency, said the increased ferocity of the storms is caused by the temperature of the sea’s surface.
Warm ocean water is where storms get their energy, and the amount of heat trapped in the top 2,300ft of the seas has increased.