Until a few minutes ago I hadn’t heard of Brahmapur. It’s an Indian city on the Bay of Bengal. There are around 350,000 residents–the size of Pittsburgh. The latest projections place Cyclone Phailin near Brahmapur as is makes landfall early Saturday evening local time (Saturday morning here in California).
This is no little storm. It’s likely to strike the coast with winds of 140 mph or higher. The Time of India quotes unnamed experts predicting winds over 190 mph!
Boston meteorologist Eric Fisher notes: “Over the past 200 years, 69% of tropical cyclone deaths worldwide were in India + Bangladesh.”
Squally winds speed reaching 45 to 55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph would continue along and off North Andhra Pradesh Coast during next 6 hours . Winds would increase in intensity thereafter with gale wind speed reaching 100 -150 kmph from forenoon of to-day i.e., 12th October 2013 and 210-220 kmph gusting to 235 kmph along and off coastal districts of North Coastal Andhra Pradesh at the time of land fall.
State of sea along and off North Coastal Andhra Pradesh will be rough to very rough and would become gradually phenomenal on 12th October 2013.
Storm surge with height 3.0 – 3.5 meters above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Srikakulam district during landfall.
Extensive damage to kutcha houses, some damage to old buildings, large scale disruption of power and communication lines, minor disruption of rail and road traffic, uprooting of trees, flooding of escape routes with extensive damage to Agricultural crops.
— ISSUED BY CYCLONE WARNING CENTRE, VISAKHAPATNAM
Years ago I attended a hurricane seminar featuring then director of the National Hurricane Center, Dr. Bob Sheets. He talked about these cyclones which hit the Indian subcontinent and surrounding areas. The results are often tragic.
The US is a rich country. When there are warnings it’s possible to move out of harm’s way. In poor countries that mobility doesn’t exist, nor do many well constructed shelters.
Dr. Sheets talked about some communities building berms, artificial hills, not as protection from the wind but refuge from flooding. It’s a low tech solution with a decent payoff, but people remain exposed.
It will take a few days for the real impact of Phailin to reach the outside world. “Fog of war” conditions always follow a storm of this magnitude. I fear what we’ll find.