Weather update: IMD issues cyclone alert for Lakshadweep

Vinson Kurian Thiruvananthapuram | Updated on January 09, 2018 Published on November 30, 2017

Satellite image as of 8.30 am IST

It says prospective cyclonic storm would move west-north-west into East Central Arabian Sea initially

A cyclone alert has been issued for Lakshadweep as a deep depression closed in to 170 km south-east of Kanyakumari at 5.30 am this morning, spinning at just below cyclone status.

Lakshadweep is an archipelago of 12 atolls, three reefs and five submerged banks lying 200 to 400 km to the West of the South-West coast (Kerala) of India.

'Nasty surprise'

The main islands are Kavaratti, Agatti, Minicoy and Amini. Agatti has an airport with direct flights from Kochi in Central Kerala.

This could be the first time in recent memory that the archipelago has come to be threatened by a full-blooded cyclone racing in from the Sri Lanka coast to the east-south-east.

An India Met Department (IMD) warning said that the prospective cyclonic storm would move west-north-west into East Central Arabian Sea initially.

Earlier this morning, the deep depression ravaged the Kanyakumari-Nagercoil region as high winds and heavy rain lashed the twin cities on peninsular tip that fell on its path.

To the just north, Thiruvananthapuram woke up this morning to sustained heavy drizzle heavily overcast skies, which ruled the roost into the rush hour traffic in the capital city of Kerala.

'Numbered' cyclone

IMD had initially issued a tropical cyclone formation alert to the West of Sri Lanka and to the South of Kanyakumari at the tip of peninsular India.

This was after yesterday's depression intensified into a deep depression in the small hours of this morning and lay 185 km north-west of Galle (Sri Lanka) and 210 km south-south-east of Kanyakumari.

The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre had declared a cyclone formation alert yesterday after it assessed as 'high' the possibility, given a helpful environment evolving in the Comorin/Lakshadweep Sea.

Though the cyclone and the track of its movement are a rarity, the seas around here happen to be among the warmest in the tropics that aids cyclone genesis.

The US agency located the system 1,672 km north-north-east of Diego Garcia, and raised it to the level of a 'numbered cyclone 03B,' the equivalent of a IMD's deep depression.

Likely to re-curve

It too agreed that the system would continue to move north-north-west, a track that takes it within earshot of Kanyakumari-Nagercoil-Thiruvananthapuram coasts.

The US agency suspected that that '03B' would continue to intensify into a very powerful cyclone over East-Central Arabian Sea, given extreme warm sea surface temperatures of 30 deg Celsius and above.

Additionally, it also predicts that the system could re-curve north-north-east aiming at the West Coast of India, aligning it towards the Mumbai-Gujarat coasts after December 4 (Monday onwards).

To be named Ockhi (contributed by Bangladesh), the cyclone could generate winds of 167 km/hr gusting to just above 200 km/hr, making it a very severe cyclone (category 4 on Saffir-Simpson scale) by then.

But the cyclone would weaken under the influence of a prevailing western disturbance - which is basically what forces change in its direction towards India's West Coast - as it approaches for a landfall.

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Published on November 30, 2017
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