The Earth’s axis continues to tilt as we near the halfway point of the northern hemisphere’s spring, and as the Sun above moves toward the Tropic of Cancer the heat content of the ocean and surface water temperature steadily increase in the northern tropics. Together with this stage of the process of the seasons the factors that contribute to cyclogenesis, the formation of tropical cyclones, are falling into place and we are starting to have tropical cyclone activity in the northern hemisphere.
The month of May started with a newly formed large tropical cyclone FANI in the Indian ocean moving in the Bay of Bengal, infamous for favoring large, wet, damaging, and deadly cyclones.
FANI became a category 5 (Saffir-Simpson intensity scale) super cyclone as it aimed for the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal. The cyclone had sustained winds of 240 kph (150 mph), gusting to 300+ kph, and generated copious rain and massive storm surge as it made landfall in the northeastern coastal region of Odisha state in India, in the morning hours of Friday 3 May 2019, near Kalkata the capital. FANI has continue to weaken as it moves inland causing widespread flooding in India and Bangladesh.
Civil protection authorities in India and Bangladesh implemented massive evacuation from the coastal regions ahead of the cyclone, more than one million evacuees in India alone, and activated storms shelters throughout the area. Initial reports from the affected regions in India confirm seven deaths already, a toll which is expected to increase. Sad as the news is, it is clear that emergency precautions and advanced forecasting undertaking by the authorities and heeded by the population have been quite effective in protecting residents of the affected areas from this dangerous and powerful cyclone.
Elsewhere, a disturbed area of low pressure between Florida and the Bahamas showing some potential for cyclonic development has continued to move northwestward toward the USA coastline. This system has generated disturbed weather and plenty of rain over the Florida peninsula and the southeastern coastal region.
A look beyond the Eastern Atlantic over equatorial Africa is already showing some tropical-wave activity moving westward north of the equator. These may become seeds for potential cyclonic activity as they move over the already warm waters of the Eastern Atlantic.
The region over waters of the Eastern Pacific near Panama, northern South America and Central America, are already populated by numerous disturbed weather and storm cells that have been typical of this region around this time over the past few years. So the possibility for some development in this sub-basin cannot be ignored.
At the opposite end of the vast ocean, the Northwestern Pacific has been quite active recently with numerous stormy weather systems moving near the Philippines, Japan, and neighboring mainland.
Meanwhile in the USA large storms are raging over Texas and neighboring states, and over the Ohio river valley and surrounding region. The combination of weather fronts, Jetstream paths, and the supply of warm moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, is clearly contributing to these storms that are generating floods, tornadoes and other damaging effects across vast regions of the country.
The pattern is clear, potential tropical cyclone activity continues to move toward the north coinciding with the approaching summer and the “official” start of 2019 hurricane season in the Pacific and the Atlantic.
Residents of these ‘vulnerable parts’ will do well to be ready, stay prepared, remain alert and MITIGATE!