When West Bengal is still smarting under the aftereffects of last year’s Cyclone Amphan, the black shadows of Cyclone Yaas are looming in the skies above the region.
Depression occurred in the east-central area of the Bay of Bengal in the morning of 22 May. On the 23rd, it turned into a deep depression. After this, it continued north-northwestward and today, that is on the 25th, this pressure has turned into a cyclone. A very severe cyclonic storm is likely to occur in the next 24 hours. Having made landfall, Cyclone Yaas will move in the direction north-northwest. The cyclone will hit the shores of West Bengal and Odisha in the morning of 26 May.
According to the Alipur Meteorological Department, Cyclone Yaas is likely to hit West Bengal in the evening of the 25th. Although the strength of the cyclone is likely to be lower than last year’s devastating Cyclone Amphan, according to the Meteorological Department, the state will witness strong winds of 40-45 km/h. Wind speeds can be as high as 70 km/h on Tuesday. Its speed can be 160–170 km/h during the landfall. As a result, it may be more frightening than Cyclone Amphan.
This cyclone got its name from Oman. Yaas is derived from the Persian word “Yasmin” which is called jasmine in English. The name may be of a flower and also of a girl. This flower in Hindi is called chameli and in Bengali, they call it juin. The name has been decided by a committee of 13 countries including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka.
According to global practice, a cyclone is named after one of the countries in the basin of the ocean from where the whirlwind originates. A total of 11 organisations in the world decide the names of these cyclones. Once upon a time, members of the World Meteorological Organisation and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia named these cyclones. The cyclones that are to follow Yaas have been named already. They are going to be Gulab, Shaheen, Jawad, Ashani, Sitarang, Mandaus and Mocha.
According to the meteorological bulletin, as the cyclone moves towards the beach, its speed will increase. Cyclone Yaas is, as of now, located 620 km north-northwest of Port Blair in Andaman, 530 km south-southeast of Paradip in Odisha, 630 km south-southeast of Baleshwar in Odisha and 620 km south-southwest of Digha in West Bengal.
Lightning and rain have started in different parts of the Sundarbans. Heavy rains have started in Raidighi, Pattharpratima, Namkhana, Sagar, Kultali and Gosaba. Rain has started in Digha and surrounding areas. Besides, it’s raining in Barasat and other areas of North 24 Parganas. Howrah and Hooghly are witnessing similar weather conditions.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah has convened a meeting to discuss the preparedness of the states to deal with Cyclone Yaas. The meeting was attended by West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy. Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands Devendra Kumar Joshi was present as well.
According to the met department, in the evening of 26th May, Cyclone Yaas may hit the coast between Paradip in Odisha and Sagardwip in West Bengal. Consequently, the storm will start on Tuesday. Not only in West Bengal and Odisha but also in Andhra Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Kolkata is preparing to face Cyclone Yaas after hopefully learning from the damage done by last year’s Cyclone Amphan. A lockdown is underway in the state. The local police station is in the process of stocking vegetables and rice so that people do not have to suffer starvation in this lockdown due to the likely heavy damage caused by the cyclone.
According to sources in the administration, a total of four boats have been kept ready for the city of Kolkata so that people trapped in the water can be rescued, if needed. Two of these boats are anchored for Alipore. One has been assigned to north Kolkata. The fourth is for south Kolkata. Civil defence is ready too. Three hundred civilian volunteers are ready for rescue operations. Thirty-five National Disaster Relief Force teams have arrived for the entire state. This apart, the Disaster Management Group of Kolkata Police is ready. There are 110 tree-cutting personnel with eight quick-response teams and integrated command centres.
The South 24 Parganas district administration has started evacuating civilians from the Sundarbans and other coastal areas. More than 60,000 people have already been evacuated from the coastal areas.
Bengal once again does not want to meet the kind of disaster Cyclone Amphan had caused. Kolkata is ready. The Sundarbans are ready.
The reporter is a retired weatherman