Bay of Bengal Cyclones in October a Historical Perspective

Did you know only 3 cyclones have crossed Tamil Nadu during the month of October over last 50 years, and strangely all the 3 cyclones have crossed close to Chennai. In the year 2013 and 2014 extremely severe cyclones Phailin and Hudhud made landfall the same day, October 12th. While Phailin made landfall at Gopalpur Hudhud made landfall at Vishakapatnam, both separated by one year and 250 kms in distance.  Read on for more such unique historical perspectives about Bay of Bengal Cyclones in October

Historically October sees the second highest instance of Cyclones in Bay of Bengal.   The last 50 years has seen 34 Bay of Bengal Cyclones in October with the last one being Extremely Severe Cyclone Hudhud which crossed near Vishakapatnam. Only the month of November with 56 cyclones during the last 50 years has seen more cyclones than October in Bay of Bengal. Of the 34 cyclones formed during October 13 of them have formed during the first fortnight while 21 of them have formed in the second fortnight.   Between the year 1967 to 1971 all the five years saw a cyclone form in the month of October, the longest streak in the last 50 years.  These 5 years are responsible for 8 of the 34 cyclones during the last 50 years, possibly the most active period in Bay of Bengal.

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While Phailin and Hudhud are possibly firmly in the memory of most people thanks to it being a recent phenomenon but the most famous of the Bay of Bengal Cyclones in October was the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone, the strongest cyclone to have hit the Indian Sub Continent.  What many don’t know is Odisha had seen an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm (Category 4) hit a about 10 days back making landfall near Gopalpur.

The 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone made landfall near Bhubaneswar.  With a ridge blocking further movement inland the cyclone stayed about 50 kms inland for almost 2 days at the same location with the intensity of a Cyclone creating possibly the worst damage in the Indian Sub Continent since the Bangladesh Cyclone in April 1991.   Never before and possibly never again could we see again a situation where a Category 4 and a Category 5 cyclone hit at the same region in less than two weeks time.

Here is a very interesting read on the 1999 Odisha Super Cyclone, a first person’s account from journalist Saswat Patttanayak who was working with Hindustan Times then in Bhubaneswar

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The year 1967  the month of October saw 3 cyclones form in Bay of Bengal basin.  All the 3 took a Northeasterly track, two made landfall in North Bay hitting Myanmar & Bangladesh coast.  The third one was a unique one hitting the Western Coast of Sri Lanka, the only cyclone to hit West coast of Sri Lanka in the last 50 years.

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As mentioned in our opening lines 2013 & 2014 saw Phailin and Hudhud make landfall on the same day, both had their genesis near Andaman Islands not far away followed a track which was almost uncannily similar with kinks and movements.  Phailin had its genesis on 8th October while Hudhud had its genesis on 7th October.  The two cyclones finally made landfall at a distance seperated by 250 kms.

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During the last 50 years in the month of October only 3 cyclones have made landfall over the coasts of Tamil Nadu with the last one being Cyclone Nilam which technically made a landfall on November 1 though it had its genesis on October 28th.  What is interesting to note is 1969, 1994 and 2012 all the three years the cyclone that crossed Tamil Nadu made their landfall very close to Chennai. An interesting recall of the 1994 Madras Cyclone by Pradeep John, the Vagaries Rainman

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