Cyclone Phailin makes landfall on India's east coast
Saturday, October 12, 2013, 2:45 PM -
The enormous Cyclone Phailin made landfall in the east Indian city of Gopalpur late Saturday morning, with the outer edge of its eye - 16 km across at its widest on Friday - coming ashore at a little over 6 p.m. local time and 8:30 a.m. Eastern Time, although the centre of the eye was not expected to reach land until the late morning.
By mid-afternoon, wind gusts were powerful enough to blow over grown men, according to The Associated Press.
At least three deaths were reported ahead of the storm, and trees and power lines were reported down across a huge swath of the coast.
Phailin is currently the largest storm in the world, and may be the largest ever recorded on Earth.
The huge storm sprawls across the Bay of Bengal, and is roughly the size of France. It boasts sustained winds of 241 km/h, with gusts of almost 300 km/h.
Strong winds and heavy rains ahead of the storm pounded communities up and down the coastlines of four states, together comprising a population of more than 250 million people.
Storm surge of up to nine metres is possible, although Indian officials say it would only max out at around three metres.
"This is a remarkably strong storm. It's going to carry hurricane-force winds inland for about 12 hours, which is quite unusual,'' said Jeff Masters, meteorology director at the U.S.-based private Weather Underground, to The Associated Press.
TUNE IN: We will be providing extended coverage of Cyclone Phailin on TV. Tune in for the latest updates.
Residents were making storm preparations with the 1999 Orissa cyclone in mind. The death toll from that storm was more than 10,000, although officials in the region say the country is better prepared this time.
The Associated Press reports around 600,000 people have been moved to higher ground.
Still, major power and communications disruptions are expected, along with severe crop damage.
The storm's sheer size and intensity have prompted comparisons to Katrina, although forecasters make significant distinctions between hurricanes, typhoons and cyclones.
With files from the Associated Press.
CYCLONE PHAILIN - QUICK FACTS
- At its strongest point, hurricane Katrina had a pressure of 902 mb and winds gusting to 280 km/h. Cyclone Phailin had a pressure of 910 mb with winds gusting to 315 km/h on Friday.
- The storm is on track to becoming the strongest cyclone the Indian ocean/Bay of Bengal has ever recorded.
- The last huge cyclone in this area was in 1999. It killed 10,000 people and had a storm surge of 8 metres.
- Most coastlines are under 5 metres above sea level. If storm surge was 8 metres in 1999, it's highly likely that Phailin will produce higher surge.
- Offshore, Phailin is already producing waves that are 18.5 metres high.
- The average cyclone has an eye diameter is between 4 - 5 km. Phailin has an eye diameter of 16 km.