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Wednesday 8 April 2020

Bulbul calling: Bengal braces for severe cyclone after 10 years

While the speed of the wind in Cyclone Bulbul is expected to be as high as that in Cyclone Aila, now the administration is better prepared for possible eventualities

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After a 10-year interval, the West Bengal administration’s alacrity in saving life and property of the people of the State will be tested again since the most severe Cyclone Aila had hit the Sundarbans on 25 May 2009. Sometime tomorrow (Saturday), a very severe cyclone will again blow over the Sundarbans: Cyclone Bulbul. The speed of the cyclone winds will be the same as that of Cyclone Aila: 120 km/h.

According to the Alipur weather office, the situation has changed a lot in the last decade. With technology, the dynamics of cyclones are already known. Because of this, the administration is better informed for adequate caution. Meteorological scientists believe that the damage will not be as severe as in the case of Aila even if another very severe cyclone blows over the Sundarbans.

In a terrifying form, a very severe Cyclone Bulbul is heading towards West Bengal and Bangladesh. There is a possibility of a cyclone over the land between the State’s coast and the Khepupara area of Bangladesh between midnight and Saturday morning. The speed of the cyclone will be in the range of 110 km/h-124 km/h. It can even go up to 130 km/h, causing massive destruction to properties even if human and animal lives are saved.

Alipore Meteorological Office sources say that the cyclone over the Bay of Bengal is heading north. The direction will change to north-east on Saturday. Weather scientists are not dismissing the possibility of damage to the Sundarbans as the cyclone is gaining momentum. The coastal administration has been warned for that reason. The district administration has also been asked to stay active.

The handling of the recent Cyclone Fani by Odisha in May this year had shown that India was now better prepared to face natural calamities than it was a decade or two ago.

Chief scientist studying the cyclone at the Central Meteorological Department Mrityunjay Mahapatra said, “While the cyclone is hitting the shore, the velocity may be around 123 km/h. At some point, it can go up to 130 km/h. The cyclone could collide with land between the West Bengal seashore and Khepupara of Bangladesh.”

Since Friday morning, rains started in the coastal district including North and South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, due to the cyclone. It is raining in Kolkata, too. The Alipore Weather Office reports that the intensity of the rain will increase on Saturday and Sunday. Heavy rains will occur in the districts named above. Moderate to heavy rains will occur in Kolkata, Howrah, Nadia and Hooghly districts and other parts of southern Bengal.

The sea will rise. There will be tidal waves along the coast of northern Odisha and West Bengal. Due to this, people in Digha, Mandarmani, Shankarpur, Tajpur and Bakkhali have been advised against venturing into the sea.

Cyclone Bulbul after Cyclone Aila
Severe Cyclonic Storm Aila at peak intensity, 26 May 2009

Due to the storm, houses may cave in, raw roads may develop cracks and plants may get uprooted. The coastal districts’ administrations have already been warned.

Ganesh Kumar Das, officer of the Alipore Meteorological Office, said, “Kolkata and adjoining areas will witness winds with speed of 50 km/h to 60 km/h on Saturday. It is likely to strike in the middle of the day. There will be an impact on the Sundarbans. The next two days will witness heavy rain.”

Due to Cyclone Bulbul, fishermen have been advised to stay away from the sea. The ferry service has been called off. Minister of State and Mayor of Kolkata Firhad Hakim said, “The State administration and Kolkata Municipality are vigilant about the Cyclone Bulbul. The new control room will be open for 24 hours. All leaves stand cancelled. I’ll be in the control room myself. “

The 2009 Cyclone Aila had devastated 24 Parganas, Kolkata and vast areas of Bangladesh. An hour-and-a-half of the cyclone accompanied by huge tides swept the vast Sundarbans. As many as 150 people had died in West Bengal alone. The death toll was 339 in Bangladesh. About one million (10 lakh) people were left without shelter. In addition, millions of houses went under the water. In the case of Cyclone Bulbul, the situation may be averted. It seems the State administration has made adequate preparations to face the calamity.

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