The Story of ‘Cyclone Amphan’ and Its effect on India

By Abhismita Deka

Photo: Billy Berg

Cyclone Amphan which has by now developed into a extremely severe cyclone storm gathered over Bay of Bengal with potential to damage the coastal districts of West Bengal and Odisha before it crosses over to Bangladesh then towards India’s Northeast.

The super cyclonic storm, which is expected to have wind speeds of 230-240 kmph to 265 kmph, is going to stay till Wednesday evening bringing heavy rainfall and storm to coastal Odisha and West Bengal. Any cyclone with wind speeds of over 220 kmph is categorised as ‘super cyclonic storm’. 

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), said during a Press briefing, “Amphan will cross West Bengal – Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) close to Sundarbans on Wednesday as an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’ with maximum sustained wind speed of 165-175 kmph gusting to 195 kmph”.

He also added that extreme damaging impact would be felt in East and West Medinipur, other districts of West Bengal such as Kolkata, Hooghly, Howrah and North and South 24 Parganas would also be severely affected due to wind speed of over 120 kmph and heavy rainfall. The cyclone will cause heavy to extremely heavy rainfall along with storm over Gangetic West Bengal and Coastal Odisha.

Ships and aircraft of the Indian Coast Guard are directing fishing boats to harbour in coordination with the local administrations and fisheries departments of West Bengal and Odisha. Ports were cleared and operations suspended along the Bay of Bengal.

The name of the severe cyclonic storm “Amphan” was decided even before it had formed. It was given by Thailand back in 2004. The word ‘Amphan’ (pronunciation: Um-pun), meaning ‘sky’.

In early 2000, a group of nations called WMO/ESCAP (World Meteorological Organisation/United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific), comprising of Bangladesh, India, the Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand, decided to start naming cyclones in the region.

In the year 2004 they came up with a list of 64 names, eight names from each country for upcoming cyclones. The given names are preordered on the list and used serially whenever a cyclone occurs. Since “Amphan” the last name on the original list prepared in the year 2004 was remained unused, it is now selected to complete the previous list and move onto a new one. After Amphan, the names of the three cyclones would be Nisarga (Bangladesh), Gati (India) and Nivar (Iran).