The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said that a cyclone has formed in the Arabian Sea and is heading towards the state of Gujarat. Named Cyclone Vayu, it developed over the weekend and is now moving northwards with a wind speed of 102 to 130 kilometres per hour (kmph).
Cyclone Vayu is heading north-west towards Gujarat and gathering speed. The storm’s gusting winds are expected to reach a high 135 kmph by Thursday. Hence, the IMD had issued an orange alert.
The alerts means that Cyclone Vayu will not wreak much havoc on land, but still presents dangerous conditions for fishermen, says Times of India. The IMD has recommended suspending fishing activity and for coastal dwellers to move further inland.
The IMD has also cautioned against flooding, uprooting, fallen branches and large banana & palm leaves, and damage to embankments and crops.
As cyclones suck moisture from the air, Vayu is also expected to delay the southwest monsoon in the north by a few days. However, if the cyclone’s winds weaken, the north could see monsoon sooner than predicted.
What is a cyclone and what can it do?
Skymet Weather explains that a cyclone is created by variations in atmospheric pressure and results in a violent, tropical storm. When air over the sea gets warmed, it rises quickly to form a low pressure area. These winds then spiral around the centre and generate strong momentum.
“A fully matured cyclone releases energy equivalent to few hydrogen bombs. The diameter of a cyclone varies from 150 to 1000 kilometres but their effects dominate thousands of square kilometres of the ocean surface”, says Skymet.
Cyclones are categorised in five ways depending on their wind speed. They also sometimes develop an “eye” which is a calm, 10 to 50 km cloud and rain-free zone in the middle of the cyclone.
Just in May, Cyclone Fani hit West Bengal and Odisha with a wind speed close to 250 kmph, making it one of the strongest cyclones in India.
In Odisha, 11 lakh people were evacuated as villages were flooded or submerged, trees uprooted, and structures blown apart. Public institutions like schools and the airport in Bengal were all closed, as well.
Similar storms are called hurricanes when formed over the North Atlantic and Northeast Pacific Oceans, and typhoons when formed over the Northwest Pacific Ocean.
India suffers heat wave in lead up to monsoon
The IMD has previously issued a heat wave warning for parts of India when temperatures peaked over 50ºC.
“Yesterday, severe heatwave conditions were observed in some parts over west Rajasthan and in isolated pockets over east Rajasthan and east Uttar Pradesh; heatwave conditions were observed in many parts over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Delhi, in some parts over Madhya Pradesh, and in isolated pockets over west Rajasthan, south Uttar Pradesh, Vidarbha, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Jammu & Kashmir,” said the IMD.
Churu and Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan were among the hottest places in the world. On June 4, IMD said that Delhi had recorded a high of 42.5ºC. However, mercury peaked at 48ºC and broke the record for the highest temperature recorded in the city.
Even in southern Indian states like Telangana, Tamil Nadu, and Andhra Pradesh, as well as those in the north-east, like Manipur and Mizoram, temperatures increased by 3 to 6ªC.
The IMD predicted that heat wave like conditions would be lifted once the southwest monsoon progressed.
Southwest monsoon starts to bring relief
The IMD said that the southwest monsoon would be a week later than expected. In what began on June 6, the southwest monsoon is predicted to bring “near normal” rainfall.
In India, the average rainfall is 89 cm in volume. The southwest monsoon of 2019 is expected to be 94% of that volume. However, there is also a 32% chance that the country will see a “below normal” monsoon.
Mumbai has already experienced cool weather in the few days that southwest monsoon has made landfall.
Rhea Arora is a Staff Writer at Qrius.