Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive

Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive
Cargo barge being tied up the side off on the banks of the Ganges for preparation of the fear of Super Cyclone Yaas in Kolkata 23 May 2021

  • Cyclone Yaas is likely to turn into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ once it hits the Indian coast on May 26.
  • This is the fourth time that a cyclone is hitting India within the month of May, and the second cyclone that the country has had to brace for in as many weeks.
  • Climate change is pegged to be behind the rapid face of intensification of the cyclone and its increasing potential to cause damage.
  • According to Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Yaas is likely to hit the Indian coast between Paradeep in Odisha and the southern coast of West Bengal.
India is still recovering from the aftermath of Cyclone Tauktae, but another powerful cyclone is already on its way. This new cyclone, which will be called Cyclone Yaas once it fully forms, is likely to become an extremely severe cyclone by the time it hits the coast — somewhere between the states of Odisha and West Bengal.

“It is very likely to move slowly north-northwestwards, intensify further into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ during the next 24 hours and into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ during subsequent 24 hours.”

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD)

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This is the fourth time that the month of May will be witnessing two or more cyclones. There were two cyclones in May in 2018 and 2004, and three in 2010.

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Moreover, the natural disaster is set to hit at a time when India is trying to contain the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic. And one can’t help but compare what’s coming to what already happened with Cyclone Amphan, last year.

Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive
Visuals of Cyclone Yaas forming in the Bay of Bengal on May 24 as of 10:30 amEarth NullSchool

When Amphan — a category 5 cyclone — hit the western Indian coast last year, India was in the clutches of the first wave of COVID-19. And the storm caused $13 billion in damage.

It was the costliest cyclone ever to brew in the north Indian Ocean breaking the previously held record by Cyclone Nargis, which hit in 2008.
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Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive
Locals clearing up fallen trees in the aftermath of Cyclone Amphan in West BengalBCCL


So far, predictions by weather models peg that Yaas will at least be a category 3 storm, with the potential to escalate to a category 4. Even though it’s likely to have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, according to meteorologist Akshay Deoras, its destructive power is likely to be just as intense.


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Climate change is making cyclones stronger in a shorter time span


The rapid intensification of Cyclone Amphan from a cyclone to a super cyclone in about 40 hours, last year, was pegged to be a sign of a warming Bay of Bengal — a consequence of global warming, according to experts.

The same was seen with Cyclone Tautkae, last week. Its pace of intensification and the duration of its rage were unexpected. And, again, experts pointed to climate change.

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Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive
Satellite image of Cyclone Yaas forming in the Bay of BengalJoint Typhoon Warning Centre

With Cyclone Yaas, history seems all set to repeat itself. The Bay of Bengal is very warm. As the storm moves in, its sea surface temperature (SST) of between 30 to 31 degrees Celsius will be one of the main factors that could quickly intensify the storm.

The IMD predicts that wind speeds with Yaas will reach a maximum of 155-165 kilometres per hour on May 26, with gusts speeding up to 180 kilometres per hour.

Cyclone Yaas may have a shorter lifespan than Amphan, but that doesn’t mean it will be any less destructive
The path that Cyclone Yaas is likely to take as it become more intense and moves towards the Indian coastJoint Typhoon Warning Centre

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According to Deoras, tropical cyclones generally form further to the south over the Bay of Bengal. If the model predictions about Cyclone Yaas hold true, it will become the most intense tropical cyclone that formed so close to the Odisha and West Bengal coasts in the month of May since 1980.

The damage of Cyclone Yaas is likely to extend beyond Odisha and West Bengal


Cyclone Yaas is expected to make landfall on the Indian coast between Paradeep in Odisha and the southern coast of West Bengal.

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Odisha has deployed 60 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force (ODRAF) teams to vulnerable districts to help with evacuation. The Indian Navy is at sea ensuring that no fishermen are out at sea. The Eastern Railway has suspended 25 trains in view of the upcoming cyclone and personnel from the armed forces and National Disaster Relief Force are on standby.

The precise location of most rainfall will depend on Cyclone Yaas’ landfall trajectory. Odisha and West Bengal may bear the worst of the impact, but the ensuing heavy rainfall puts other areas like Jharkhand, Sikkim, Bihar, Assam and Meghalaya at risk of flooding.

In India’s neighbouring nation of Bangladesh, more than 75,000 volunteers have been put on standby to deal with the possible effects of Cyclone Yaas.

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