Cyclone Mocha has caused widespread devastation as it made landfall on the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar on Sunday. The storm, which reached a peak intensity of around 260 mph, is being hailed as possibly the strongest tropical cyclone to hit the northern Indian Ocean region since 1982.
Meteorologists and climate scientists are closely monitoring the situation as the storm continues to move across the region, leaving behind a trail of destruction in its wake. According to reports, the storm has caused massive flooding, destroyed homes, and uprooted trees and power lines.
“Cyclone Nargis in 2008 attained a maximum wind speed of 215 mph. It was the worst meteorological disaster to hit Myanmar. Cyclone Mocha now has attained a maximum wind speed of 260 mph as per global agencies, which falls under the super cyclone category,” said Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology. “The impact of Cyclone Mocha will be deadly on the local population”
Mocha reached super cyclone intensity hours before landfall, with peak intensity around 260 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC), headquartered in Pearl Harbour in the US, and the Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Branch (RAMMB) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The India Meteorological Department maintained a lower category status of the storm based on its observations.
“Cyclone Mocha is now the strongest cyclone ever recorded in the north Indian Ocean (including all seasons, both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal) in the satellite era (since 1982) equalling the strength of Fani,” said Vineet Kumar Singh, a researcher at the Typhoon Research Center, Jeju National University, South Korea.
Cyclone Fani, which made landfall in Odisha in 2019 and Mocha on Sunday recorded a peak wind speed of 277.8 mph followed by Gonu over the Arabian Sea in 2007 and Amphan over the Bay of Bengal in 2020 with a maximum intensity of 268.54 mph, according to JTWC, which issues alerts on tropical cyclones. The peak intensity of Mocha was around 260 mph, according to RAMMB, which too monitors oceanic storms.
Authorities in both Bangladesh and Myanmar have urged people to evacuate from low-lying areas and take shelter in safe places as the storm continues to move inland. Rescue and relief efforts are underway, but the scale of the damage is still being assessed.
The last time a storm of this intensity hit the region was in 1982, when Cyclone Ophelia struck Bangladesh, causing widespread damage and loss of life. The current situation has raised concerns among experts about the impact of climate change on extreme weather events in the region.
Climate scientists have long warned that rising sea levels and warmer oceans could lead to more frequent and intense storms in the future. The impact of these storms is likely to be felt most acutely in vulnerable communities, particularly those living in low-lying areas and coastal regions.
As the world continues to grapple with the effects of climate change, it is becoming increasingly clear that urgent action is needed to mitigate its impact. The current situation in the northern Indian Ocean region serves as a stark reminder of the need for greater global cooperation and concerted efforts to address this pressing challenge.