(WashingtonPost) In the last 18 hours,
Phailin’s peak winds have increased an astonishing 80 mph (or 70 knots), a rare
rate of intensification.
“Based on satellite
estimates, maximum sustained winds are now easily around 160 mph (140 knots),”
says Ryan Maue, a
meteorologist at WeatherBell.com, a private forecasting services company. Those
wind speeds would make Phailin the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane,
capable of catastrophic damage.
Phailin is not only
intense, but also large. “It’s equivalent to Katrina in size,” Maue says.
are ripe for the storm to maintain its strength if not intensify further.
Water temperatures are very
warm and there is little hostile wind shear.
“Except for an eyewall
replacement cycle, that’s the only thing that could stop it,” Maue says. “I
don’t see any dry air. It’s outflow is nearly perfect. The ocean heat content
all the way to the coast will be the same [as the content supporting its
current strength] or even higher…”
Meteorologist Jeff Masters warns
cyclones that form over the Bay of Bengal have a history of producing
“Twenty-six of the
thirty-five deadliest tropical cyclones in world history have been Bay of
Bengal storms,” Masters writes. “During the past two centuries, 42% of Earth’s
tropical cyclone-associated deaths have occurred in Bangladesh, and 27% have
occurred in India (Nicholls et al., 1995.)”
In 1999, the Odisha cyclone
– taking a similar course to Phailin –
made landfall as a category 4 cyclone with 155 mph sustained winds. The storm
killed approximately 15,000 people. Many
perished from the storm surge – the wall of water pushed ashore by Odisha’s
winds – of up to 26 feet.
Storm surge, likewise,
poses the biggest danger from Phailin due to the low lying terrain at the coast
that could easily be inundated. The
strength of Phailin’s winds and its mammoth size are likely to generate a
“A worst case scenario
would have Phailin tracking slightly eastward of its current forecasted track,
toward Kolkata and the Ganges Delta of Bangladesh, which is home to tens of
millions of people living just a few meters above sea level,” notes Qz.com
meteorologist Eric Holthaus.
Preparations are underway.
“India began stocking
shelters with rations, put disaster response teams on standby, and cancelled
government employees’ holidays as a cyclone hurtled towards its southeastern
coast on Thursday,” reports Reuters.
Post a Comment