Cyclone Mocha Tears Through Myanmar and Bangladesh

After a harrowing week of cyclone predictions, Mocha finally made landfall over Myanmar and Bangladesh yesterday afternoon, narrowly missing India in the process. The storm struck the coasts of both countries between 12:30-2:30 PM IST on Sunday, bringing powerful winds of up to 195 kmph and copious amounts of rainfall with it. 

Armed with catastrophic 250 kmph+ winds, the Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha(category five hurricane as per the Saffir-Simpson scale) turned out to be the strongest cyclone to form on Earth out of the 16 that occurred this year. Being only the first notch in our pre-monsoon cyclone season’s belt, the storm weakened to below 200 kmph wind speed before landfall.

Fortunately, Mocha seemed to be in a rush to vanish as quickly as it developed. Per the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the storm rapidly weakened into a depression over Myanmar on Monday morning. The storm’s remnants further weakened into a well-marked low-pressure area within a few hours, easing the rescue, rehabilitation, and recovery process.

While some northeastern parts of India continued to face crossfire from the storm, most of the storm’s deadly strength was focused on our neighbours: Bangladesh and Myanmar. Mocha thoroughly wreaked havoc across Myanmar, severely disrupting daily life and inundating many roads. Storm surges flooded significant parts of Sittwe, while strong winds swept most parts of the coastal region, toppling communication towers, trees, and even houses.

While Bangladesh was relatively spared from Mocha’s wrath, the country also faced severe devastation. According to a Bangladeshi official, 12,000 houses were fully or partially destroyed in Cox’s Bazar. The cyclone also damaged crops, uprooted trees, and tore through hundreds of makeshift shelters housing Rohingya refugees.

As for after-effects on India, heavy to very heavy rainfall (64.5 mm – 224.5 mm) has been forecast to continue pelting the northeastern states till the weekend. IMD predicts heavy showers over Arunachal Pradesh on May 15, 16 and 18; over Assam and Meghalaya from May 15-19; and over Nagaland, Mizoram and Tripura from May 15-19.

Additionally, very heavy downpours will likely inclement Assam and Meghalaya on May 15, 16 and 18, and the N.M.M.T. states from May 15-17.

In contrast to some neighbouring eastern states enduring heatwaves, most of the northeastern states have been placed under a rainfall yellow watch (meaning be updated on the weather) over the next few days. While all northeastern states will share in the yellow watch from Monday to Tuesday, only Arunachal Pradesh will be relinquished from the alert from Wednesday onwards. All the other states will continue with the same yellow watch till Friday (May 19).

Source – The Weather Channel