Cyclonic Storm Tauktae on May 16 paralleling the west coast of India

Cyclonic Storm Tauktae on May 16 paralleling the west coast of India. Credits: NASA

How the tropic cyclone, Tauktae, wreaked havoc in the Arabian Sea

Throughout its history of 4.5 billion years, Earth has been a dynamic creature breathing in and out its atmosphere. The uneven heating of the ocean surface gives rise to some of the most vibrant atmospheric disturbances that often result in high-speed winds, called storms. Characterized by the rules of physics, the storms can be seen as an attempt of a huge gust of ambient air rushing to fill up the gap, or a region of low pressure (of the atmosphere), created by the heating of the air by the sun over a given geographic region. The speed of the rush is determined by the rate of heating up of the air to be replaced. When these high-speed winds are grown enormously and fastened up, they are called Storms. And getting any bigger and potentially more hazardous makes them a cyclone. Cyclones have been one of the greatest natural hazards witnessed by humans. They can cause unimaginable devastations across lands and seas, causing the loss of lives and property.

Thanks to the advancements in technology and research, we are, up to a considerable extent, able to forecast the path, severity, and potential destructiveness of any cyclone concerning us. Science has enabled us to track, forecast a cyclone and raise early warnings, thus saving lives and property. At the time, when we cope with the Covid-19 surge in the sub-continent, the atmospheric depression over the Arabian Sea cooks up a cyclonic giant that grew up to be one of the deadliest cyclones in the near future.   

Here comes ‘Tauktae’!

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Tauktae’ is the name given to an incredible cyclone in the Arabian Sea that turned into the most grounded cyclone to make landfall on the western shores of India. Tauktae began from a tropical aggravation, which the Indian Meteorological Department first observed on May 13. The unsettling influence drifted toward the east and coordinated into profound wretchedness by May 14. The tempest before long took a turn toward the north, proceeding to a step-by-step escalate, and the system reinforced into a cyclonic tempest and was named Tauktae later that very day. Tauktae kept strengthening into May 15, arriving at serious cyclonic tempest status soon thereafter.

Tauktae started to resemble the shoreline of the Indian provinces of Maharashtra, Kerala, and Karnataka before quickly escalating into an extreme cyclonic tempest on May 16. Almost immediately on May 17, Tauktae increased into an amazingly serious cyclonic tempest, arriving at its pinnacle power soon subsequently. Later that very day, Tauktae went through an eyewall substitution cycle and debilitated prior to strengthening as it approached the shoreline of Gujarat, making landfall. After making landfall, Tauktae steadily debilitated as it turned north-eastward, moving further inland. On May 19, Tauktae debilitated into a very much stamped low-pressure territory.

Observed track of ESCS ‘Tauktae’ over Arabian Sea during 14-19 May 2021.
Source: Indian Meteorological Department
Observed track of ESCS ‘Tauktae’ over Arabian Sea during 14-19 May 2021.
Source: Indian Meteorological Department

Why named ‘Tauktae’?

The term ‘cyclones’ comes from the Greek word ‘Cyclos,’ which implies a coiling snake. It is an arrangement of wind pivoting inwards around a low-pressure region. Brought about by unsettling environmental influence, cyclones are generally joined by serious climate conditions like storms. When the speed of a storm wind reaches or crosses 74 mph, then it is considered to be a Cyclone. Only when a storm becomes a Cyclone is it given a name. 

The act of naming cyclones started to recognize them in warning messages. It is hard to recollect specialized numbers and terms of the cyclones for individuals. In this way, to build local area readiness if there should be an occurrence of crisis and to make it simpler for media reports to spread data, cyclones are given names.

The panel comprising 13 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Yemen, name cyclones in the region. In 2020, a new list of names was released that had 169 names of cyclones, having 13 suggested names each from 13 countries.

Tauktae - Table showing the cyclone naming convention used by the panel of 13 countries in the Indian sub-continent. Note that the next two cyclones would be names Yaas and Gulab recommended by Oman and Pakistan respectively.
Source: Twitter
Table showing the cyclone naming convention used by the panel of 13 countries in the Indian sub-continent. Note that the next two cyclones would be names Yaas and Gulab recommended by Oman and Pakistan respectively.
Source: Twitter

For now, List 1 is in use, where the name of the current cyclone comes from. As recommended by Myanmar, the name Tauktae, pronounced as ‘Tau-te,’ is of Burmese origin and is the name of the ‘Gecko,’ a highly vocal lizard found in the region. No wonder this nomenclature inspired by this noisy lizard has perfectly synced with the cyclone as the latter has been screaming into the shores with choking noises.

‘Tauktae’ Lizard- the noisy gecko found in the hilly regions of Myanmar and the North-East Indian state of Nagaland. Source: Google
Tauktae’ Lizard- the noisy gecko found in the hilly regions of Myanmar and the North-East Indian state of Nagaland. Source: Google

The aftermath!

Tauktae carried substantial precipitation and blaze floods to zones along the coast of Kerala and on Lakshadweep. There were reports of substantial downpour in the provinces of Goa, Karnataka, and Maharashtra as well. Tauktae resulted in 101 deaths in India and left another 81 individuals missing. There were additionally five deaths reported in Pakistan. The tempest dislodged more than 200,000 individuals in Gujarat. The cyclone caused far-reaching devastation on the western shore of India. As much as 40 anglers were lost adrift when their boats were trapped in the storm. Mumbai additionally experienced effects from the tempest, with airports being shut for safety reasons. The city encountered its fastest at any point recorded breeze blast at 114 km/h (70 mph). Power blackouts and other electrical issues likewise affected locales.

This can be seen merely as a coincidence that Tauktae was devastating Gujarat through the landfall the same day. At the same time, India recorded its, at that point, most elevated single-day COVID-19 loss of life, with 4,329 deaths reported, making the day nothing sort of an Armageddon for the western part of the country. The cyclone likewise caused an enormous number of sea occurrences as it moved along the shores of western India. Hundreds went missing from different boats; nonetheless, most of them were rescued—other bigger ships likewise experienced issues. Reportedly, 37 bodies were recuperated from protected barges, with more than 40 individuals actually went missing.

Tauktae - Waves engulfing pavement at the historic Gateway of India in Mumbai. Source: Mid Day Magazine
Waves engulfing pavement at the historic Gateway of India in Mumbai. Source: Mid Day Magazine

In Pakistan, the external wind region of the cyclone came to the extent lower Sindh area. Because of the impact, it produced dust storms and was followed by a light downpour, which influenced the city of Karachi. The solid breezes additionally caused a rooftop to implode, killing four individuals. The residue storm likewise destroyed trees, billboards, and electric shafts. The Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD) recorded 7 mm (0.28 in) of downpour around there. It causes a heatwave in the city, with temperatures rising as high as 43.5 °C (110.3 °F). In the Maldives and Sri Lanka, more than 730 families were influenced by the cyclone.  

Is that over yet?

Our planet is a living creature breathing through its atmosphere. Our existence depends on its wellbeing. No matter how arrogantly we claim to have tamed the forces of nature, our planet makes sure that we are reminded of its enormous powers every now and then. Cyclones are one such natural reminder for us. They are evidence of how furiously nature can treat us. They remind us of the fact that Earth is a very vulnerable place. A tiny change in the atmosphere may gradually result in the devastation of a civilization. The cyclone ‘Tauktea’ was right here above us, knocking us out and asking us to stay inside our shells of arrogance. Natural hazards are nature’s way to warn us not to take this beautiful planet for granted. While we have thrown all of our scientific achievements into coping with the global pandemic, another cyclone is churning up in the Bay of Bengal, ready to hit us in the last week of May. Behold!

Also Read: NASA STILL MAKING THE MOST OF THE 6,000-YEAR-OLD AMULET DISCOVERED IN PAKISTAN

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