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TROPICS | Indian Ocean

Powerful tropical cyclone set to slam India, timing here

Jaclyn Whittal

Monday, December 10, 2018, 3:51 PM - Hurricane season 2018 has come to an end for the Atlantic Basin but the Indian Ocean continues to be active. We are watching for the formation of the 7th named storm for this season, that could bring flooding rains and damaging winds to southeastern India and northern Sri Lanka. Details below.


The system is set to develop on Wednesday in the Bay of Bengal on Wednesday, deepening as it approaches the southeast coast of India. If the storm reaches cyclone status it will be given the name Phethai, and as it stands, it’s possible the storm’s winds could gust up to 150 km/h just offshore. That would qualify it as a Category 2 storm if measured on the Saffir-Simpson scale used for Atlantic hurricanes, but in this case, we would measure the storm with the scale used in India in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization. Most of the winds will be confined to the coast and not spread inland, though at 150 km/h this would still be called a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm. 

The southeastern Indian state of Tamil Nadu will be hit very hard with rain as the storm approaches the coast, with totals potentially as high as 250 mm, making this a severe flood story. The storm will make landfall sometime on Friday into Saturday.

SEE ALSO: Deadly storm slams U.S. Southeast, thousands without power


While this part of the world classifies storms according to a different naming convention than storms in the Atlantic, and measures their strength according to a different scale, tropical storms form the same way no matter what ocean they are in, and require the same ingredients, one of the most important of which are warm ocean waters. 

Washed by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, India is the most tropical storm-prone region of the world. Its very long coastline of 7,516 km is exposed to nearly nearly 10 per cent of the world’s tropical cyclones, and 2018 is coming in above average. This season has seen a total of 13 depressions, six cyclonic storms, four severe cyclonic storms and three very severe cyclonic storms. 

Outside of Indian waters, the strongest storm of the season was Cyclone Mekunu, which boasted winds of 175 km/h when it rolled through the region in May and killed more than 30 people when it made landfall on the Arabian Peninsula. 

While it has been an active tropical season in India, the annual monsoon season did not bring the normal amount of rain so this moisture isn’t all bad news. Stay tuned to The Weather Network for more details. 


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