ven as Odisha is bracing for yet another tropical cyclone, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra Monday said that the cyclone will be as intense as Cyclone Titli that wreaked havoc in 2018. Orissa POST’s Delhi correspondent Kuldeep Singh speaks to Mohapatra on the impending storm. Excerpts…
Where will Cyclone Yaas make landfall and when?
Cyclone Yaas will make landfall between Paradip and Sagar Islands, around Balasore, in the afternoon of May 26.
Which areas of the state will be affected and what would be the intensity of the summer storm?
It will have wind speed upto 155 to 165 kmph gusting upto 185 kmph at the time of landfall. And these wind speeds will prevail over Balasore, Bhadrak, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara districts. The wind speed will diminish as it would move towards the hinterland. For Mayurbhanj, we can expect wind speed upto 120 to 130 kmph while areas like Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Bhubaneswar will also have wind speed in different ranges. We would be providing district-wise wind warning.
How severe Yaas would be as compared to previous cyclones that had hit Odisha like Fani?
Fani’s wind speed was 205 kmph and here we are telling of wind speed upto 165 kmph. It is far less than that of Fani but it will have same intensity as that of Cyclone Titli which crossed south of Gopalpur in 2018. The intensity of Yaas would be almost the same but slightly less than cyclone Amphan which crossed the Sunderbans in 2020. Yaas will have less intensity as compared to storms like Tauktae and Amphan.
How is IMD tracking the storm? Tell us about the radars being used for this purpose.
We have got Doppler radars at Gopalpur, Paradip and Kolkata. This particular cyclone will be tracked by these three radars. Vizag radar will also be used to some extent if the cyclone comes near Andhra coast. Most probably it may not come. Mostly it will be tracked by Gopalpur and Paradip radars.
Will it affect the arrival of the southwest monsoon in the state?
The cyclone will not have any impact on arrival of the monsoon. The southwest monsoon comes to Odisha around June 10/12. So, it is far away now. We have predicted that monsoon may hit Kerala around May 31.
Do you think that human activities make coasts vulnerable to cyclonic storms?
It’s a very tricky question. Cyclone frequency and intensity depends on the climate change upto some extent. It has been studied for the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal. I was the member of the study panel. We found that frequency of intense cyclones is increasing over Arabian Sea not over Bay of Bengal. It remains the same over Bay of Bengal. There are many coastal activities which have some relationship with respect to the impact of cyclone. It does not have any relation with respect to frequency or intensity of the storm. When I say impact of cyclone that means activities on the coast will be associated with the land use and land cover. Land use and land cover affect the surface run-off, river system etc if the development is taking place in that ecological place. In that sense, when cyclone comes it will have indirect impact in terms of flooding and others.
How much is Odisha government prepared to tackle the storm and how is your department coordinating with the state governments?
Odisha has set an example in the country when it comes to cyclone management. There is complete coordination between the Central and state agencies whenever a storm hits the state. We are also providing all required information to the state. The decisions taken by the state government are forwarded to all district Collectors and the state-level officials. We have specific warning system for every sector. For example, we have warning for ports, for fisheries sector, fishermen warning, for coastal shipping, we have coastal warning, for deep sea shipping, we have specific warning system and for airports operating in the state, we have got specific aviation bulletin. For naval operation also we have information. We had a meeting with industries Monday and all of them were informed about the impending storm.