Cyclone Michaung, now categorized as a ‘severe’ cyclonic storm, is forecasted to approach the Bapatla district of west-central and coastal south Andhra Pradesh on Tuesday morning. Unusual for December, it’s provoked heavy rainfall in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and southern Odisha.
December rarely sees highly intense storms due to unfavorable ocean conditions. Initially expected as a ‘tropical cyclone,’ Michaung was later upgraded to ‘severe’ on December 3 by the Met department.
This intensification in a December cyclone is atypical, stated IMD officials, attributing it to elevated heat index values off the south Andhra Pradesh coast that bolstered Michaung’s strength.
The cyclone is anticipated to closely follow the south Andhra Pradesh coast before making landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam near Bapatla on Tuesday forenoon.
IMD’s warnings highlight the possibility of heavy to extremely heavy rainfall in multiple Andhra Pradesh districts, posing a threat of extensive crop damage, especially to nearing harvest crops like paddy and pineapple.
Expectations include strong winds and a storm surge with potential inundation in low-lying areas, while the system is projected to continue northwestwards, prompting an ‘orange’ alert for heavy rainfall in southern Odisha.
India’s eastern and western coastlines, bordered by the sea, face annual cyclone impacts. Typically, the North Indian Ocean basin, encompassing the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea, witnesses around five cyclones annually. The Bay of Bengal experiences approximately four, while the Arabian Sea sees around one. This basin is most susceptible to cyclone occurrences in April-June and October-December.
The Bay of Bengal witnesses more cyclone activity, particularly in May and November, with higher intensities compared to other months. States like West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, and Maharashtra are often affected.
Although the Arabian Sea witnesses fewer cyclones, they tend to escalate to severe intensities, posing significant damage risks.
Tropical cyclones thrive on warm ocean temperatures, specifically at depths of 50-100 meters, with water temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius or higher. Additionally, Tropical Cyclone Heat Potential, crucial for their genesis and intensification, supplies primary energy through upward latent heat fluxes.
Cyclone intensification involves a complex interplay of atmospheric conditions, including boundary layers, wind shear, convection, and air-sea interaction, contributing to the intricate process.