India braces for Cyclone Hudhud

Tropical storm, named after bird, powers towards southeastern states of country and will make landfall on October 12.

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    A tropical cyclone has developed in the Bay of Bengal, and threatens to bring severe weather to southeastern India.

    The storm, called Cyclone Hudhud, is still strengthening, and the winds are forecast to be gusting up to 230 kph by the time it makes landfall in India. This would make it the equivalent of a category three storm on the five-point Saffir-Simpson Scale which is used to rate storms in the Americas.

    A storm this powerful is a major cyclone, and would be expected to cause widespread damage, with even well-built homes being affected. Electricity and water are usually unavailable for several days after a storm of this magnitude has passed.

    Another major consideration is flooding. The storm will push a huge volume of water ahead of it, known as a storm surge. This could reach up to two metres in places, which would lead to flooding in many coastal regions. Torrential rain will also add to the flooding issues, with as much as 250mm forecast in some locations, which is easily enough to trigger widespread flooding.

    The eye of the storm is expected to make landfall in northern part of the Andhra Pradesh state, shortly after 0GMT or around 530am local time on Sunday, and this is when the worst of the winds and heaviest of the rains are likely to be seen.

    After hitting the east coast, Hudhud, which is named after an Afro-Eurasian bird, will then track west, across the country, weakening as it does so. The winds will quickly ease, but the rain will continue to be a problem as the system sweeps across the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra.

    The authorities are likely to be keeping a very close eye on this storm, but will be buoyed by their success in the handling of tropical Cyclone Phalin.

    Phalin hit the Indian state of Odisha almost exactly a year ago and was the second strongest storm ever to hit the country. Over half a million people were evacuated from the path of the storm, which undoubtedly helped to keep the death toll as low as possible.

    The government earned worldwide acclaim, including a citation from a UN body, for its management of Phalin. As Cyclone Hudhud bears down on the coast, the residents of Andhra Pradesh will be hoping that the treatment for this cyclone is just as rigorous.

    Follow Steff Gaulter on Twitter: @WeatherSteff

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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