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Cyclone Amphan makes landfall

Bhubaneswar: Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms over the Bay of Bengal in years, started making landfall around 2.30pm on Wednesday, bringing with blinding rain and gusty winds.

“The landfall process began at 2:30 pm and will continue for about four hours. The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal,” IMD Bhubaneswar said.

“The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal,” the Met said. The intensity of the cyclone near its centre was recorded at 160kmph-170 kmph, gusting to 190 kmph.

IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mohapatra has said Amphan will reach near West Bengal by evening, adding that the entire cyclone will likely enter the land by 7pm.

Several districts in Gangetic West Bengal and north Odisha have been experiencing rain and gale winds since morning. The intensity of the downpour and wind increased gradually with every passing hour.

The system is likely to move north-north-eastwards after landfall and pass close to Calcutta in its eastern side causing extensive damage and flooding of low-lying areas of the city, the Met department warned.

Amphan weakened from a super cyclone to an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” on Tuesday, causing strong winds and heavy rain in parts of Odisha and Bengal as it advanced towards the Indian coast.

On Wednesday afternoon, the storm lay centered over northwest Bay of Bengal, just 95 km from West Bengal’s Digha town before it started making landfall.

Amphan is the second strongest storm on the Bay of Bengal since the 1999 Odisha super cyclone, said Mrutyunjaya Mohapatra, a senior scientist and cyclone forecasting specialist at the IMD, New Delhi. Mohapatra has led the tracking efforts that began in the second week of May, focused on what was then a low-pressure zone near the South Andaman Sea.

At one point on Monday night, Amphan had become the only super cyclone after Odisha one over 20 years ago.

“The 1999 super cyclone had generated sustained wind speeds of 260-280kmph. Amphan had winds blowing at 230-240kmph,” Mohapatra said.

By Tuesday morning, Amphan had depleted from a super cyclone to an extremely severe cyclone.

The strength of storms is determined by wind speeds generated at their peak on the sea. Amphan had touched its peak wind speed on Monday night and the storm would lose some of the steam by the time it makes landfall.

The system had been moving north-northwest at the beginning. But it did not travel in a straight path. Around Monday morning, it started to re-curve and travel in a north-northeast direction towards the Bengal and Bangladesh coasts.

A Met bulletin on Tuesday evening said Amphan was an “extremely heavy cyclonic storm over west-central Bay of Bengal about 360km from Paradip (Odisha) and 510km from Digha”.

It is expected to continue its north-northeastward journey and hit land. After landfall, the storm will pass through Bangladesh as a weakened depression, said a Met official.

“The storm is a huge system that will take close to five-six hours to make a complete landfall,” said Mohapatra. The storm has a diameter of around 700km.

Even the depleted storm is expected to generate wind speeds of over 150kmph during landfall, with gusts clocking 185kmph, said the MET Department.

The core or the eye of a cyclonic storm is a relatively quiet zone, surrounded by the spiralling bands of winds.

As a storm passes, an area will experience the peripheral winds in the front. As the relatively calm core passes through land, there will be a brief lull. That will be followed by the passage of the rear winds, which are just as strong as the ones at the head of the spiral.

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