Disaster strikes Odisha again – Cyclone Fani – Extremely severe Cyclone

Odisha (formerly Orissa) is cursed with storms and cyclones. Every year (in summer specially) we get struck with a storm or two. This post is going to be about Cyclone Fani and its aftermath as experienced by me. I live in Angul which is 138 km interior off the coast (Puri).

The year 1999 was a disaster when a super-cyclone hit the coast of Odisha with winds speeds of 260 km/h. It is still to this date, the strongest recorded tropical cyclone in the North Indian Ocean.

Extremely severe Cyclone Fani

It’s strange how almost exactly 20 years after the Super Cyclone of 1999, we are going to experience another extremely severe cyclone.

Severity changed from very severe cyclone to extremely severe cyclone on 30th April, 2019 at 23:03 pic attached below:

Cyclone Fani severity
Source: Google.org

To be honest, I’m terrified right now, especially after the severity of cyclone was changed few minutes ago as I was writing this post.

In 1999, when I was about 4 years old, I remember discovering a disappeared mud-house from our village after the storm had passed. It belonged to Birbal Uncle (name changed). He worked for my dad and his son and I would later become good friends. Now, I live in Angul which is about 138 km (aerial distance) from Puri. Even in such an interior location the storm was powerful enough to damage trees, mud-houses and old buildings. Imagine what would’ve happened at the coast.

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News so far

Alright, I’ll break down the news and tell you everything I understood so far about the Cyclone Fani.

The cyclone is going to be a category 4 storm on Saffir-Simpson scale.

It will make landfall on 4th May in the early morning. The place of landfall is going to be somewhere near Puri along the coast of Odisha. Landfall is when the epicentre of a cyclone or hurricane touches land.

Meanwhile, National Crisis Management Committee has put National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and Indian Coast Guard on high alert. – Times of India – Indiatimes

Why is Cyclone Fani different?

What differentiates Fani from other Cyclones in the past is it’s path. It moved northwards instead of hitting the eastern shores of India. This gave it sufficient time in water to build up speed and violence that it currently has.

Cyclones gain their strength by the amount of time they spend on water. That’s why cyclones originating in the Pacific Ocean are almost often much more powerful than the ones originating in the Bay of Bengal or other similarly smaller seas and oceans.

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Cyclone Fani – Events Timeline

30th April, 2019

23:03 – Severity of the cyclone changed from very severe cyclone to extremely severe cyclone, on google public alerts website. What this means is that the cyclone is going to have more devastating impact on old concrete buildings, and rail/road networks may suffer huge damages. Trains might get diverted/cancelled.

1st May, 2019

00:10 – In Angul, the weather is calm. Its midnight and I’ll sleep soon. I’ll probably take a photo of outside and then go to bed.

10:36 – I checked google for updates on Cyclone Fani and found out that it is still classified as an extremely severe cyclone. I found two more things.

1- According to Indian Meteorological Department Cyclone fani is the most severe April cyclone in 43 years. – thehansindia

2- Schools are closed and EC has lifted poll code in 11 districts. – India today

The weather in Angul is cloudy. It was clear last night?

Cyclone Fani angul effect
Taken around 10:40 AM in Angul
Cyclone fani effect in Angul 2019
Another view taken around same time in Angul

12:29 – Weather in Angul is partly cloudy with sunshine at certain intervals. Power cuts have been a nighmare. It’s the third time after I woke up that I’ve encountered no lights and no fans. Temperature is milder than yesterday. It’s less warm with gentle winds blowing at scattered intervals.

Cyclone fani effect in Angul
This photo was taken sometime around 12:30 PM on 1st May 2019 in Angul, Odisha

13:17 – I checked the rsmc website of India Meteorological Department. The status tells us that landfall will occur near Puri, between Gopalpur and Chandbala.


cyclone fani landfall
Cyclone Fani expected to make landfall near Puri

Here’s the bulletin notice from India Meteorological Department (IMD). It lists all the details about the storm including present forecast.

cyclone fani forecast
Forecast of Cyclone Fani – IMD

14:30 – I’m seeing lot more clouds form, and temperature decline along with decreased sunshine. Here’s a picture:

Cyclone Fani angul effects clouds
More clouds are forming and the temperature is declining.

Not much changed on 1st after this. Night was calm with slow scattered winds.

2nd May, 2019

22:51 – I didn’t get time to update anything for the entire day but I read about Fani, it’s latest development and how cyclones form in general.

The weather was completely cloudy with almost no direct sunshine at all. It rained moderately in the afternoon.

It’s night and my friends from Cuttack and Bhubaneswar have told me that there is heavy downpour in those places. It’s raining here in Angul too but the rain is very slow and it’s less than afternoon’s downpour.

Meanwhile there are reports of Bhubaneshwar airport being shut down from midnight. Kolkata airport on the other hand will be shut down tomorrow, through 5th May.

3rd May, 2019

00:43 – I found a website called “earth.nullschool.net” from the news that shows wind speeds. Hence it’s able to track Cyclone Fani and it’s movement. I’m not sure about it’s accuracy, but I have discovered some interesting findings that I would like to share.

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First, according to the coordinates of the wind map of earth.nullschool, it seems that this cyclone is likely to hit the area near melliputti in Andhra Pradesh. But, after inspecting the movement I found out that the cyclone is actually moving north east, away from the shores of Andhra Pradesh, towards Gopalpur.

Earth.nullschool wind speed Cyclone Fani
earth.nullschool wind map and cyclone movement
Maps Cyclone Fani
A place in Andhra looks like the immediate target but the course of Cyclone confirms Gopalpur is the target

Then, about the time of landfall. When I checked the movement of Cyclone Fani for an hour and calculated it’s distance from the Gopalpur shore, I realised it would take about 8-12 hours (morning 8 to 12 noon on 3rd May) to reach there. This finding coincides with the news from news18 and odishatv.

The government have evacuated close to 11 lakh (1.1 million) people to safety.

01:22 – I checked the India Meteorological Departments website for an updated map location and bulletin. I downloaded the pdf for analysis and found that if their forecast was correct the Cyclone should make landfall at 9:30 – 10:30 AM in the morning of May 3rd. Take a look at the forecast yourself.

Cyclone Fani updated movement forecast IMD
Updated IMD forecast of Cyclone Fani’s movement and strength.

If you live in an affected part of Odisha, stay safe and help others who might be in need.

07:18 – Gopalpur has recorded winds speeds of over 100 km/h. Hoardings and tree branches have fallen in Khordha. Gopalpur has recorded 140mm of rainfall, Puri 90mm, and Bhubaneswar about 50mm.

When the storm makes landfall there will be a calm phase followed by very strong winds with the speeds in excess of 170 km/h. Don’t get deceived when the wind stops as it might be the eye of the cyclone and most violent winds encircle the eye, which has a radius of about 50-60 km.

07:47 – Angul: Wind speed is rising and birds are flying in the sky. Cloud cover has blocked sunshine completely and it has been raining since morning.

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Cyclone Fani effect Angul windy cloudy
Cloud cover and wind in Angul

Meanwhile, satellite television is working and we are able to watch news. Reporters are on site and talking about the situation in Khordha, and Chillika.

If the storm gets weakened it will be better for both people our country. Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Only time will tell if this storm will be as destructive as anticipated.

10:18 – Cyclone Fani made landfall near Puri and here’s a video tweet from pib India showing the wind speed:

The process of landfall will take some time to complete after which the cyclone should weaken.

Coming back to Angul, wind speeds are normal with short bursts of up to 50 kmph and continuous rain.

Angul cyclone fani
Weather in Angul

11:42 – Wind speed in Angul has increased significantly with bursts of winds blowing at 50+ kmph.

Wind speed Angul Cyclone Fani
Wind speed and temperature in Angul

This article will be updated as I gather more details on the cyclone.

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