Cyclone Asani, first in 2022, to develop on March 21
Asani, this year's first cyclone, is expected to form over the central Bay of Bengal and hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands on March 21, from where it may move towards Bangladesh and Myanmar. Although it is unlikely to cross the eastern coast, heavy rain and strong winds are predicted over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, as per the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
Last week, IMD predicted that the cyclone would move towards Bangladesh and north-western Myanmar. However, its current progression indicates that east and northeast India will be susceptible to its impacts throughout the next week. An advisory has been issued to the fishing community to avoid fishing in dangerous regions of the sea. Sri Lanka has named the cyclone Asani.
Strong winds around 40-50 km/h gusting up to 60 km/h are expected over the Bay of Bengal and the equatorial Indian Ocean until March 18. Wind speed is expected to gradually increase by March 21. Gale winds of 70-80 kmph gusting up to 90 kph are expected over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands and the Bay of Bengal.
"For now, it does not seem like it will affect the mainland Indian coast. Our models indicate Asani may cross Bangladesh or adjoining north Myanmar coasts. But it is also too early to say what will be the trajectory. All conditions are favorable for formation and intensification of the cyclone," an IMD official said. Asani may reach Bangladesh and Myanmar coast by March 23.
"If the forecast materializes, Cyclone Asani will become the first-ever tropical cyclone to hit Andaman and Nicobar Islands in March. Not a single tropical cyclone has hit the region in March in at least 132 years," said Akshay Deoras, a meteorologist in the United Kingdom.
Meanwhile, Mahesh Palawat, Vice President (Climate and Meteorology) at Skymet Weather, stated that dry and hot winds from the Thar desert had been blowing across parts of northern and central India. Maximum temperatures in northwest India are not expected to change significantly over the next two to three days. Following it, a western disturbance on March 19 and 20 may provide some relief.
According to Abinash Mohanty, Programme Lead at the Council on Energy, Environment, and Water (CEEW), IMD's recent heatwave alert highlights the effects of climate extremes in recent years, which aligns with the projections of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report. "Increase in the intensity and frequency of extreme events...is a result of human-caused landscape disruptions...which causes temperature and precipitation anomalies," he said.
According to the CEEW's Climate Vulnerability Index, Indian districts' landscape attributes (tree cover, forest coves, wetlands, and mangroves, among others) have changed by 45%, causing such extreme weather conditions. "Rapid deployment of nature-based solutions can mitigate the impact of climatic extremities. They also pay a double dividend of enhancing resilience by generating socio-economic and environmental benefits that can climate-proof lives and livelihoods," Mohanty asserted.