Cyclone Amphan is expected to make landfall today (May 20) as millions of people in India and Bangladesh have been told to evacuate. The tropical cyclone is tracking through the Bay of Bengal towards the densely populated Ganges River Delta. India’s National Disaster Management Agency (NDMA) said today the storm could hit with maximum sustained winds up to 102mph (165kmh).
On Tuesday, the US space agency NASA photographed the cyclone just to the south of Cuttack and Kolkota.
The satellite image shows thick clouds coiling around the eye of the storm.
Amphan is one of the biggest tropical storms in a decade and has been branded a Super Cyclone, reaching Category 5 force on Monday.
NASA said: “Millions of people prepared to evacuate as Tropical Cyclone Amphan approached eastern India and Bangladesh on May 19, 2020.
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“The potent storm is expected to make landfall by midday on May 20 with dangerous wind, rain, storm surges and flooding.
“This image shows the storm at 4.16pm Universal Time (9.45pm India Standard Time) on May 19 as it moved north-northeast over the Bay of Bengal.
“The image is a composite of brightness temperature data acquired by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite, overlaid on Black Marble nighttime satellite imagery.”
When the photo was taken, the cyclone was churning out sustained winds of about 100 knots or 115mph (165kph) – the equivalent of a category 3 storm.
The higher the cloud tops, the colder and the stronger the storms
Cyclone Amphan is expected to slightly weaken before it makes landfall but the danger to life remains significant.
India’s weather department predicts the cyclone could cause waters to surge by 10ft to 16ft (3m to 4.8m).
In 2007, about 3,500 people were killed in Bangladesh when Cyclone Sidr struck the country with Category 5 winds.
At 8am today, the NDMA said the storm was moving in north-northeast direction at speeds of about 18mph (29kph).
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Meteorologists predict the cyclone will move north-northeast and cross the west Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Digha and Hatiya in the afternoon to evening hours local time.
The cyclone is expected to maintain winds between 62kmp and 68mph (100kph and 110kph) with gusts up to 77mph (125kph).
On Monday, the storm was photographed by NASA’s Aqua satellite and MODIS.
The satellite gathered data on water vapour to help scientists understand how strong the storm is.
NASA said: “Water vapour analysis of tropical cyclones tells forecasters how much potential a storm has to develop.
“Water vapour releases latent heat as it condenses into liquid.
“That liquid becomes clouds and thunderstorms that make up a tropical cyclone.
“Temperature is important when trying to understand how strong storms can be.
“The higher the cloud tops, the colder and the stronger the storms.”
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