A massive cyclone is about to hit the eastern sea coast of India. Cyclone Phailin is gathering intensity and is expected to pick up speeds of over 220 KMPH, which would categorize it as a ‘severe’ to ‘super’ cyclone. Over 400,000 people have been evacuated from low lying areas close to the coast and shifted to various public institutions turned into cyclone relief centers. The army, navy, air force, coast guard and other reserve forces have been mobilised to offer relief as the cyclone is expected to make landfall by 6 PM IST on October 12th. Here is a list of emergency contact numbers in the region. The cyclone is currently on par in its intensity with hurricane Katrina in 2005.
I write this from the comforts of my home in New Delhi while hundreds of locals are refusing to leave their homes, shops and their only source of livelihood. Relief operations are in full swing but as is with many in India, there is a greater faith in god to protect them than anything else.
Two questions that remain unanswered at this moment are a. What was the sea surface temperature that caused this cyclone? vis-a-vis the past few decades and b. What is the periodicity and intensity cycles of such cyclones? These questions are crucial to learn how the unequivocal rise in global warming is causing cyclones like Phailin. But for now, our thoughts are with those millions in the path of the cyclone’s fury and hoping there is as little casualty as possible.
We will keep this site updated with the latest on this extreme weather event.