Coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh are likely to receive a fresh spell of fairly widespread to widespread rains with isolated heavy falls from Thursday evening.

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec. 7

THE depression over South-East Bay of Bengal catapulted itself to become a tropical cyclone on Wednesday (a numbered tropical storm, 06B, till the previous day); it was assigned the name `Fanoos'.

The cyclonic storm lapped up the warming waters of the South-East Bay through Tuesday and encountered less than expected friction from wind shear before intensifying rapidly, said Dr K.J. Ramesh of the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting.

But the warming anomaly appears to have started gradually extending northwards into the south coastal Tamil Nadu waters.

Sea surface temperatures have risen by at least half a degree centigrade in what have previously been cooler anomalies left behind by the passage of predecessor tropical cyclone Baaz. If this were to hold, south coastal Tamil Nadu could be brought bang in the line of fire as Fanoos, the third cyclonic storm in a row to march down the Bay waters this season, careened its way in.

The scenario will be clearer only with the approaching landfall, Dr Ramesh said. On Tuesday afternoon, Fanoos was located at 11.0N and 86.9E (the same latitude as Karaikal-Kumbakonam) but 410 nautical miles (750 km) east-southeast of Chennai. The cyclone is expected to shift slightly from its west-northwest movement to track a more west-southwest direction, in line where the warming anomaly lies.

It could straighten to a more westerly direction if the warming anomaly were to extend to the north as projected. Chennai would most possibly be spared of the brunt of the storm as it rushes in to make a landfall. But it would still have to contend with some heavy rain since the rain clouds are still concentrated to the north of the system.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre estimated the pack of core of winds as having clocked 50 knots (92 km/h) and gusting to 65 knots (120 km/h) on Tuesday. These speeds have been forecast to touch 55 knots (101 km/h) and 70 knots (130 km/h) in the next 24 hours and hold there for at least two more days to come.

Almost all major models surveyed tended to agree with a scenario where the system will force its way across the south Tamil Nadu coast, venting some steam through the Gulf of Mannar to the immediate southwest and caressing the northern tip of Sri Lanka in the process. Fanoos could slam ashore at a point anywhere between Karaikudi and Pondicherry, if one were to go by the projections advanced.

While doing so, it will have accelerated from a low speed of four knots (seven km/h) in lateral movement to almost the double, a Joint Typhoon Warning Centre projection said. The rain belt will extend to north Tamil Nadu and even into south coastal Andhra Pradesh.

An NCMRWF forecast said that coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh are likely to receive a fresh spell of fairly widespread to widespread rains with isolated heavy falls commencing around Thursday evening. Strong on-shore winds associated with Fanoos are likely to lash the districts of south coastal Andhra Pradesh.

During the last 24 hours ending Wednesday morning, scattered rainfall was reported from Tamil Nadu, Lakshadweep, Kerala, Karnataka and Goa while it was widespread over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. A cyclonic circulation continued to persist over the Arabian Sea, maintaining the east-west shear zone in tact. Moderate rainfall activity is expected to continue over south peninsular India in view of the active east-west shear zone.

Related Stories:
Bay system turns depression, churning fast to the coast
New Bay `low' spawns rain alert in TN, AP

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated December 8, 2005)
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