The first cyclonic storm of the year, Amphan, formed over the southeast Bay of Bengal is moving slowly towards the coast while gathering strength from the warm ocean and is predicted to track towards Bangladesh.
Bangladesh Meteorological Department already issued signal number four for the country’s four maritime ports with the government holding emergency disaster preparedness meeting throughout Sunday.
International weather forecasters warned that the storm charged with high energy might bring flooding rain, damaging wind and cause high tidal surges from south-eastern India to Bangladesh, where land elevation is particularly low.
‘At the moment it is clear that Bangladesh is going to feel the impact of the cyclone,’ said meteorologist Abdul Mannan.
The severity of the impact may vary depending on the track it takes, but part of it would surely cross Bangladesh, he said.
The cyclone turned into a severe storm in the afternoon with wind blowing up to 117 km per hour within 64 km of the centre of the storm, said a special weather bulletin issued at 6:00pm by the BMD.
The storm was centred 1,305 km south-southwest of Chattogram port, 1,240 km south-southwest of Cox’s Bazar port, 1,230 km south-southwest of Mongla port and 1,210 km south-southwest of Payra port, said the special weather bulletin.
‘It is not possible to say with certainty the track the cyclone would take and when it would make landfall,’ said Mannan.
The BMD said that the cyclone was likely to further intensify and move in north-northwesterly direction.
The India Meteorological Department in a bulletin issued at 5:30pm said that the cyclone may cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coast between Sagar Islands and Hatiya Islands in the afternoon or evening of Wednesday as a very severe cyclonic storm.
The cyclone moved at five km per hour in the last six hours and was hovering 1,110 km south-southwest of Digha, West Bengal and 1,230 km south-southwest of Khepupara, said the IMD.
‘We have to double or triple, if possible, the number of existing shelter centres to evacuate people maintaining social distancing,’ cyclone preparedness programme director Ahmadul Haque told New Age.
He said that three coastal divisional commissioners and deputy commissioners in 19 coastal districts were instructed to take over all educational institutions and mosques in their areas to be used as cyclone shelter centres.
Bangladesh has 4,071 cyclone shelter centres in the coastal region, he said.
The low depth in the Bay and its triangular shape acts as a funnel offering cyclonic storms formed over the Indian Ocean an easy path to barrel down.
The cyclones create particularly devastating impacts on Bangladesh, especially when they are accompanied with high tidal surges.
The Weather Channel, a US television channel, said that Amphan was becoming a hurricane strength system.
The BMD advised all fishing boats and trawlers to stay close to the shore and not to venture into the deep sea until further notice.
As the cyclone gathers strength and inches towards the coast, a mild heat wave continued to sweep through the coastal Khulna division sending the temperature to 37.8 C at Jashore, which was country’s highest.
The BMD issued signal number 1 for all major inland river ports until 1:00am Sunday.