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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Cyclone Hudhud batters Andhra and Orissa ...

Severe cyclonic storm Hudhud hit the port city of Vishakapatnam today bringing with it torrential rains in three coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and leaving five persons dead in the state and neighbouring Odisha besides snapping power and communication lines.  Reports state that normal life was thrown completely out of gear as winds with a speed of 170 to 180 kmph battered Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts. 

For years cyclones that originated in the north Indian ocean were anonymous affairs.  But finally in 2004 they clubbed together and agreed on their favourite names That was when an international panel on tropical cyclones led by the WMO sat down and decided to name their cyclones as a committee in the spirit of co-operation and consensus. Eight countries - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand - took part. They came up with a list of 64 names- eight names from each country - for upcoming cyclones. Last year, Phailin, the name for a massive cyclone which battered India's south-eastern coast – Hudhud was a name given by Oman. 

Hudhud originated from a low pressure area that formed under the influence of an upper-air cyclonic circulation in the Andaman Sea on October 6. The system drifted westward and intensified into a depresion and subsequently into a deep depression the following day. The IMD issued today  20.30 read : The Very Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘HUDHUD’ over north Andhra Pradesh moved northwestwards,  weakened into a Severe Cyclonic Storm and lay centered over north Andhra Pradesh at 1730 hours IST of 12th October 2014 near latitude 18.0ºN and longitude 82.7ºE, about 140 km south-southeast of Jagdalpur and 65 km northwest of Visakhapatnam. It would continue to move northwestwards and weaken further into a Cyclonic .

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired an emergency meeting on Saturday to review preparedness for Hudhud and asked officials to ensure that rescue and relief operations proceed smoothly.  With the very severe cyclone Hudhud headed towards its coast, the Orissa government on Saturday launched a massive evacuation drive.  Sources said thousands have been shifted from the eight vulnerable districts, including Ganjam, which had borne the brunt of cyclone Phailin last year.  

Over two lakh people were on Saturday evacuated from coastal areas of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.  The IMD had stated that upon landfall, Hudhud would bring rainfall at most places in north Andhra Pradesh and south Orissa. Isolated extremely heavy rainfall (over 245 mm) was expected over west and east Godavari, Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam (north Andhra Pradesh) and Ganjam, Gajapati, Koraput, Rayagada, Nabarangpur, Malkangiri, Kalahandi and Phulbani districts (south Orissa) on Sunday and Monday.  People evacuated from vulnerable areas in the two states have been shifted into the 370 relief camps set up by the state governments.  Army and Navy personnel are on standby for rescue and relief operations, as are at least 44 teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).

Today’s updates suggest that the velocity of Cyclone Hudhud has come down to 90-100 Km/hour. The cyclone Hudhud lost its intensity by evening as it moved further 60 km northwest of Visakhapatnam, the IMD said. Hudhud, which was so far a very severe cyclonic storm, has now converted into a severe cyclone and its speed is now limited to 100-110 kmph, said M Mahapatra, scientist at the Cyclone Warning Division of IMD. Mr Chandra babu Naidu is seeking to leverage modern communication technology through "crowd sourcing" to provide relief to the victims of cyclonic storm 'Hudhud'. The CM said that people can provide information on the cyclone damages by downloading an App and send pictures and videos through it, as per PTI. 67752 people have been evacuated to 604 safe shelters. We are monitoring situation and taking precautions, says Naveen Patnaik. Extensive damage has been reported in Visakhapatnam; Cyclone has badly affected Ganjam and Gajapati district in Odisha. The impact of Cyclone Hudhud will remain for another six hours after which the wind speed is expected to reduce by 50 percent, but heavy rainfall will continue till October 15, 2014.

The third ODI between India and West Indies on October 14 in Visakhapatnam has already been abandoned because of the  cyclone. The game will not be rescheduled and the series is now a four-match contest. Earlier, some reports had suggested that the game would go on as the cyclone would have crossed by the date of the match – however, good sense has prevailed and now there will be no match in the cyclone battered place.   Logically, there was no option with flight services to and from Visakhapatnam suspended, however it was felt that match could not be shifted to any other venue in short time.   That reveals poor planning as it is anyway monsoon time in South India. 

So, what does Hudhud mean? The storm has been named after the national bird of Israel. The name was suggested by Oman. Hudhud is a colorful bird found across Afro-Eurasia.  The hoopoe  is a colourful bird found across Afro-Eurasia, notable for its distinctive "crown" of feathers. Like the Latin name upupa, the English name is an onomatopoeic form which imitates the cry of the bird.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
12th Oct 2014.


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