BHUBANESWAR: Funnel shaped and shallow, the Bay of Bengal has witnessed around 500 cyclones in 125 years since 1891 of which 107 targeted Odisha causing immense devastation.
However, compared to hurricanes in the west pacific, cyclones originating in the Bay of Bengal are less intense and much weaker, but ironically cause more death and destruction.
In fact, 18 of 24 cyclonic storms which caused more than 5,000 deaths had occurred in the region surrounding the Bay of Bengal, Prof Uma Charan Mohanty of School of Earth, Ocean and Climate Science at IIT, Bhubaneswar said here on Saturday.
Addressing mediapersons on the eve of the four-day National Symposium on Tropical Meteorology (TROPMET-2016) to be held here from December 19 to 21, Mohanty said the high casualty figure was because the coastal deltaic plains were densely populated as the land was fertile and preparedness was inadequate, he said.
The conference, being held in the State for the third time, is being organised by the Indian Meteorological Society (IMS) in collaboration with SOA University, State Government and India Meteorological Department (IMD). The theme of the symposium this year is ‘Climate Change and Coastal Vulnerability’.
Prof Mohanty said the world witnesses 80 to 90 cyclones every year, seven per cent of which occur in the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. But climate change has impacted such natural phenomena to a greater extent.
The super cyclone, which devastated coastal Odisha in 1999, had a wind velocity of over 250 km per hour while Phailin that hit the State in 2013 had a recorded wind speed of around 218 km per hour.
Cyclones with wind speed of 220 km per hour are categorised as Super Cyclones, but the casualty figure in 2013 was much less compared to 1999 because of increased awareness and timely administrative action. ‘’Warming of the sea was the cause behind cyclones and apparently, the number of such storms was on the rise due to global warming. Severe to very severe cyclones now witnessed regularly were rare earlier,’’ he added.
President of IMS Air Vice Marshall (Retd) Prof Ajit Tyagi and Director of IMD, Bhubaneswar Dr SC Sahu were also present.