Tropical Cyclone Fani: A Forecasting Challenge

Tropical Cyclone Fani: A Forecasting Challenge

There are two major seasons for tropical cyclones formed overnorthen Indian Ocean basins (i.e. Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea). These two seasons are pre-monsoon (April-May) and post-monsoon (October-November).Tropical cyclone Fani is a rarest of rare pre-monsoon storm formed over Bay of Bengal forecasted to hit Indian east coast in next 48hours (i.e. 03 May 2019). In past 25 years only one tropical cyclone in pre-monsoon months had crossed the Indian mainland. Current official forecasts from India Meteorological Department (IMD) suggested a probable landfall location close to south of Puri with sustained maximum wind speed 175-185kmph with gust (short term intense wind burst) up to 205kmph around 3rd May afternoon. And in next 24hours it is projected to be rapidly intensified to an extremely severe cyclone over Open Ocean (including possible formation of “Tropical Cyclone Eye” with wind speed of 180-190kmph with gust up to 210kmph. 

European model forecast though closely resemble with IMD as far as the intensity of the storm is concern, however, there is a disagreement on the landfall location.As per their latest projected track, tropical cyclone Fani has a likely tendency to recurve away from the east coast of India with touch and go situation at the coast of Odisha near Paradip/Chandbali, indicating that there will be no technical landfall over the east coast of Odisha. Even though there will no technical landfall of the tropical cyclone over Odisha, however, the northern coastal districts of Odisha (Puri, Khurda, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapada, Bhadrak, Balasore) will be impacted by wind speed and moderate to heavy rainfall on 03rd May 2019 due to its movement very close to the Odisha coast. As per current projections, the storm will completely move away from the state of Odisha state towards West Bengal by morning hours of 04 May 2019.

Predicting the landfall locations and intensity of recurving cyclones is one of the major challenges for the forecasting community particularly while over open Ocean (far away from the land) and projections can only be more accurate once the storm comes under coastal radar range.Though technically it is just 48hours from project landfall time, however, there is reasonable uncertainty in about the landfall location, but as the cyclone generally covers a large area (500~100km), therefore impact is spread over large area in terms of wind, rainfall and storm surge irrespective of specific landfall location. Therefore, always requires sustained and continuous monitoring to observe its path in terms of satellite/radar observations, instantaneous observations and accurate model projections for reliable forecasts with sufficient lead time for better disaster preparedness to minimize the damage in terms of lives, livelihood and properties.

By Uday India Bureau

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.