India Meteorological Department (IMD) said Saturday’s cyclone ‘Remal’ over the Bay of Bengal intensified into a severe cyclone early this (Sunday) morning and lay centred over North Bay about 290 km South-South-West of Khepupara and 330 km South of Mongla (both in Bangladesh); 270 km South-South-East of Sagar Islands, 390 km South-South-East of Digha, and 310 km South-South-East of Canning (all in West Bengal).

May intensify further

‘Remal’ will continue to move nearly northwards, intensify further and cross Bangladesh and adjoining West Bengal coasts between Sagar Island and Khepupara, close to South-West of Mongla (Bangladesh) by midnight of Sunday as a severe cyclone with maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 km/hr gusting to 135 km/hr.

The IMD indicated the severe cyclone may intensify a step further, but did not clarify whether it could reach extremely severe cyclone status. 

Favourable environment

The severe cyclone is expected to benefit from lower wind shear over the North Bay which global models indicated may dip even further. Another favourable factor is the boiling hot sea-surface in the region reaching 32℃, way beyond the required threshold values.

What could, however, militate against the prospects of intensification is proximity to land, especially the rugged terrains of the Myanmar coast, and to some extent, the marshy Sunderbans. 

Monsoon progress in Bay

The severe cyclone has also brought the monsoon to some more parts of the South-West, Central Bay and the North-East Bay as well as the remaining parts of the South-East Bay by Saturday night. It remains to be seen if it will drag the seasonal rains over land to North-East India ahead of Kerala to the farther South-West, where the IMD usually declares the onset first. 

The IMD indicated the possibility for heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places over the coastal districts of West Bengal and eastern districts of the plains of the region adjacent to Bangladesh on Sunday and Monday with isolated extremely heavy rainfall on Sunday.

Peak rainfall activity is likely to fall between Sunday noon to Monday noon. Heavy to very heavy rainfall is also likely at isolated places over the eastern districts of the plains of the region on Monday and Tuesday. 

Rains for North-East 

Isolated heavy rainfall is forecast over North Coastal Odisha on Sunday while it will be heavy to very heavy at isolated places over Mizoram, Tripura and South Manipur. A similar forecast will be valid for Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur and Tripura on Monday and Tuesday.

Isolated extremely heavy rainfall is likely over Assam, Meghalaya on Monday and Tuesday; over Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday; and Mizoram and Tripura on Monday. 

Prospects for Kerala

Monsoon onset over Kerala may lack the fizz around the predicted May 31 timeline in the wake of ‘Remal.’ Short-to-medium-term outlook of the IMD assesses a helpful though weak cyclonic circulation forming off North Kerala around June 3 and pushing towards the Karnataka and Goa coast along with weak monsoon flows.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts indicates the possibility of lower than normal rainfall along the coast during the first week of June. 

Fairly widespread to widespread light to moderate rainfall, thunderstorms, lightning and gusty winds are forecast over Kerala & Mahe, Lakshadweep and Coastal Karnataka during next seven days that also covers IMD’s monsoon onset window.

It will be isolated to scattered light to moderate rainfall lover Coastal Andhra Pradesh & Yanam, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry & Karaikal, Telangana, and Interior Karnataka on Sunday. Isolated heavy rainfall is likely over Kerala & Mahe until Tuesday.