The Cyclone Fani, which pulverized parts of coastal Odisha on May 3, had the longest life span among tropical cyclones observed in the Bay of Bengal, according to the Centre for Environment and Climate (CEC) of the SOA University.
“The elongated time period of the cyclonic storm continued for eleven days in the sea and land put together and had the longest life span ever observed in the Bay of Bengal,” Dr SC Sahu, Director of CEC said.
The peculiarity of the strong cyclonic storm was the persistence of its intensity till it crossed the coast and it did not weaken following interaction with land after crossing the coast close to Brahmagiri in Puri district and high temperature in the Indian region though it moved parallel along the east coast from Tamil Nadu to Odisha. Besides, it did not cause extreme heavy rainfall in Odisha as was anticipated, he said. The storm surge height, as reported by the local people at Satapada, was about ten feet while the wind speed was more than 200 km per hour. The cyclonic storm, which started as a low pressure near the equator on April 24, took about two hours to cross the coast after landfall and then headed northwards towards Bhubaneswar and nearby areas.
Bhubaneswar was within the eye of the cyclone the diameter of which was about 28 km and it moved at a speed of 22 km. Dr Sahu said there was a lull in the cyclone for about 30 minutes, after which the wind direction as well as the speed changed. The wind speed increased as the eye crossed over to land due to a combination of wind velocity and downdrafts caused by thunderstorm over Bhubaneswar at that time.
The cyclone maintained its intensity till it reached Bhubaneswar and then changed direction to move in a northeastward direction towards Mayurbhanj. The devastation wrought by the Fani over land was mainly due to high wind speed and fast movement. But it would have caused greater devastation had it remained stationary or moved at low speed on land for some time, Dr Sahu said.