A brief overview
Unbeknownst to Indians who were busy tackling the deadly second wave of COVID-19 Pandemic, a hazardous tropical cyclone struck West Bengal, Odisha, and Southern Bangladesh on May 26, 2021, merely nine days after Cyclone Tauktae lashed at India along its Arabian Sea Coast.
Indian Meteorological Department reported Cyclone Yaas to have hit north Odisha coast near Balasore at 10:30 A.M. local time, bearing sustained winds of 120 km/hr (75 miles per hour), and an equivalent of a category 1 hurricane. Ferocious winds accompanied by rain caused landslides in the Sunderbans and flooded the neighboring areas.
More than one million people were evacuated as the storm approached. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee declared some 20,000 homes to be damaged with towns such as Digha “swamped” by thirteen-foot high waves. Associated Press news agency quoted an official claiming more than twenty villages in the Southern Patuakhali district to be submerged after waters washed away two river embankments and 15,000 civilians being rushed to cyclone shelters. The said “very severe cyclonic storm,” moved northwestwards and weakened gradually, and dissipated two days later on 28th May 2021.
The origin of Cyclone Yaas
The North Indian Ocean region (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) usually experiences tropical cyclones during the pre-monsoon (April to June) and post-monsoon (October to December) periods. The periods from May-June and October-November are renowned to brew cyclones of severe intensity that affect the Indian Coasts.
Bob Henson, a meteorologist, and writer with Weather and Underground, in an interview with BBC, said that the Bay of Bengal is the “textbook example” of the worst sort of places for storms to surge –shallow, concave bays where water is pushed by the strong winds of a tropical cyclone.
The high sea temperatures in the “warm” Bay of Bengal are also a major reason for strong cyclones to occur. The beginnings of Yaas were observed by the Indian Meteorological Department on May 23rd from a tropical disturbance, whereupon conditions in the basin favored its development into a deep depression that intensified itself into a cyclonic storm within twenty-four hours.
Moving northeast, Yaas had transformed into a severe cyclonic storm on May 24th despite the moderate wind shear. With marginally favored conditions, Yaas had accelerated northeastward, strengthening into a Category 1 equivalent cyclonic storm by May 25th and reaching its peak intensity on May 26th in Odisha.Destruction veiled under the beauty of a name, the word Yaa’s roots from Persian origins translating to ‘Jasmine’ in the English language.
A panel of thirteen countries including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen with accordance with the World Meteorological Weather Organization and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for the Asia Pacific took the initiative of circulating names for impending cyclonic disasters in the year 2000.
The cyclone cyclones on a rotational basis and this May 2021 cyclone got its name by Oman from a new list of names issued in April 2020. Such precautions of identification of the storms are taken under consideration for easier communication of warning notifications and their development. As technical terms would be difficult for laymen to memorize and spread awareness on, naming a cyclone makes it easier for media and authorities to spread the word and disseminate information. Also, it helps differentiate if two cyclones strike the nation at the same time.
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