After facing the brunt of a deadly cyclone just a week ago, the country is about to go toe to toe with yet another natural disaster with the name of Cyclone Yaas. Districts along northern Odisha and adjoining West Bengal are bracing for a heavy storm early this week. This will be the 2nd cyclone to hit Indian coast within 10 days after Cyclone Tauktae which crossed Gujarat on May 17.
Currently, a system is developing in the east-central Bay of Bengal. On Sunday morning, it turned into a depression (wind speed 45 to 55 km/hr gusting to 65 kms/hr) and was located 560 kms north-northwest of Port Blair, 590 kms east-southeast of Paradip and 690 kms south-southeast of Balasore in Odisha.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the system will intensify into a cyclonic storm by Monday morning. Once realised, it will be called cyclone Yaas, named by Oman and signifies a tree bearing fragrant flowers. Further, the cyclone will move north-northwest wards as it further strengthens to form a ‘Very Severe’ cyclone before hitting along the north Odisha – West Bengal coast, somewhere close to Paradip and Sagar islands around the evening hours of May 26.
North Odisha districts including Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapara and Mayurbhanj will receive moderate to heavy rainfall on Tuesday with the rainfall intensity increasing to very heavy category on Wednesday. Mednipur, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly districts of West Bengal have been warned of heavy to very heavy rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. Extremely heavy rain is forecast on May 26 and 27 over Murshidabad, Malda, Dakshin Dinajpur, Birbhum, Bankura, Purulia and Bardhaman districts, here.
The intensity of cyclonic storm Yaas is likely to be similar to that of Cyclone Amphan, which hit the Sunderbans in south Bengal in May 2020, killing over 100 people and causing widespread damage in the region.
The cyclone is likely to make landfall on May 26 evening between Paradip in Odisha and Sagar islands in West Bengal after intensifying into a very severe cyclonic storm with wind speed ranging from 155kmph to 165 kmph, gusting to 185 kmph. Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 23 chaired a high-level meeting to review the preparedness of the state and central agencies to deal with the situation and called for a timely evacuation of those involved in offshore activities.
The armed forces are on alert with the Navy putting on standby four warships and a number of aircraft. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has kept 11 transport aircraft and 25 helicopters ready to carry out humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations as part of preparations to deal with the situation arising out of Cyclone Yaas. The IAF airlifted 21 tonnes of relief materials and 334 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel to Kolkata and Port Blair from three different places on Sunday as the government initiated a series of measures to tackle the cyclone that is brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
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