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Cyclone Remal: Developing Storm Could Impact Monsoon Onset

The Bay of Bengal is witnessing the formation of Cyclone Remal, a storm system that could significantly impact the onset of the Indian monsoon.

KJ Staff
Cyclone Remal: Developing Storm Could Impact Monsoon Onset (This image has been created with MidJourney)
Cyclone Remal: Developing Storm Could Impact Monsoon Onset (This image has been created with MidJourney)

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued advisories for fishermen off the coasts of north Odisha and West Bengal to return by today due to the potential for very heavy rainfall and high winds.

The Director of the IMD's Visakhapatnam Cyclone Warning Centre reported that a low-pressure area formed over the southwest Bay of Bengal early on May 22. This system is expected to intensify into a depression by May 24 as it moves northeastwards.

Sea surface temperatures in the region are currently above 30°C, with some areas reaching 32°C or more, creating ideal conditions for cyclone development. The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), an eastward-moving atmospheric disturbance, is also contributing to the cyclone's formation by providing the necessary rotational wind.

Climate scientists from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology highlighted a potential limiting factor: the rapid northward progression of the monsoon. This could suppress the vertical development of the cyclone, potentially keeping it as a monsoon depression rather than a stronger system.

Forecast models present divergent scenarios for Cyclone Remal's path and intensity. The Global Forecast System (GFS) suggests the system will move northwestward towards eastern India, potentially intensifying into a Severe Cyclonic Storm (SCS) or Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS). Conversely, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) predicts a northward trajectory towards Bangladesh or northeastern India, with the system likely remaining a depression due to upper cold air flows.

The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) of the United States Navy has also issued an alert, noting favorable conditions for the system’s intensification, such as warm sea-surface temperatures and low vertical wind shear.

The IMD predicts light to moderate rainfall in many areas, with isolated heavy rainfall over North and South 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur districts of West Bengal, and Balasore district of Odisha on May 25 and 26. Similar forecasts have been made for Mizoram, Tripura, and south Manipur.

As the situation develops, the IMD continues to monitor the storm closely. The path of Cyclone Remal will play a crucial role in determining the arrival of the monsoon in India, with potential implications for both early and delayed onset depending on its trajectory.

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