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May 5, 2008

Wikipedia: Cyclone Nargis

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Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Nargis
Very severe cyclonic storm (IMD)
Category 4 cyclone (SSHS)
Cyclone Nargis on May 1

Cyclone Nargis on May 1

Formed April 27, 2008
Dissipated May 3, 2008
165 km/h (105 mph) (3-minute sustained)
215 km/h (135 mph) (1-minute sustained)
Lowest pressure 962 hPa (mbar)
Fatalities ≥10,000 total
Damage Unknown
Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar
Part of the
2008 North Indian Ocean cyclone season

Cyclone Nargis (JTWC designation: 01B, also known as Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Nargis) was the first tropical cyclone to make landfall on Myanmar (formerly Burma) since Cyclone Mala in 2006. The first named storm of the 2008 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, Nargis developed on April 27 in the central Bay of Bengal. Initially it tracked slowly northwestward, and encountering favorable conditions it quickly strengthened. Dry air weakened the cyclone on April 29, though after beginning a steady eastward motion Nargis rapidly intensified to attain peak winds of at least 165 km/h (105 mph) on May 2; the Joint Typhoon Warning Center assessed peak winds of 215 km/h (135 mph). The cyclone moved ashore in the Ayeyarwady Division of Myanmar near peak intensity, and after passing near the major city of Yangon (Rangoon), the storm gradually weakened until dissipating near the border of Myanmar and Thailand. Myanmar was very severely affected by the cyclone, with over 10,000 people believed dead. [1]


Storm history

In the last week of April, an area of deep convection and concern persisted near a low-level circulation in the Bay of Bengal about 1150 km (715 mi) east-southeast of Chennai, India.[2] With good outflow and low wind shear, the system slowly organized as its circulation consolidated.[3] At 0300 UTC on April 27, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) classified the system as a depression,[4] and nine hours later the system intensified into a deep depression.[5] At the same time, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center classified it as Tropical Cyclone 01B. With a ridge to its north, the system tracked slowly north-northwestward as banding features improved.[6][7] At 0000 UTC on April 28, the IMD upgraded the system to Cyclonic Storm Nargis while it was located about 550 km (340 mi) east of Chennai, India.[8]

On April 28, the motion of Nargis became nearly stationary while located between ridges to its northwest and southeast. That day, the JTWC upgraded the storm to cyclone status, or the equivalence of a minimal hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane scale.[9] At around the same time, the IMD upgraded Nargis to a severe cyclonic storm.[10] The cyclone developed a concentric eye feature, which is an eyewall outside the inner dominant eyewall,[11] with warm waters aiding in further intensification.[12] Early on April 29, the JTWC estimated Nargis reached winds of 160 km/h (100 mph),[13] and at the same time the IMD classified the system as a very severe cyclonic storm.[14] Initially, the cyclone was forecasted to strike Bangladesh or southeastern India.[15][16] Subsequently, the cyclone became disorganized and weakened due to subsidence and drier air; as a result, deep convection near the center markedly decreased. At the same time, the storm began a motion to the northeast around the periphery of a ridge to its southeast.[17] The circulation remained strong despite the diminishing convection, though satellite intensity estimates using the Dvorak technique indicated the cyclone could have weakened to tropical storm status.[18] By late on April 29, convection had begun to rebuild,[19] though immediate restrengthening was prevented by increased wind shear.[20]

On May 1, after turning nearly due eastward, Cyclone Nargis began rapidly intensifying, due to greatly improved outflow in association with an approaching upper-level trough.[21] Strengthening continued as it developed a well-defined eye with a diameter of 19 km (12 mi), and early on May 2 the JTWC estimated the cyclone reached peak winds of 215 km/h (135 mph) as it approached the coast of Myanmar.[22] At the same time, the IMD assessed Nargis as attaining peak winds of 165 km/h (105 mph).[23] Around 1200 UTC on May 2, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in the Ayeyarwady Division of Myanmar.[24] The storm gradually weakened over land, with its proximity to the Andaman Sea preventing rapid weakening. Its track turned to the northeast due to the approach of a mid-latitude trough to its northwest, passing just north of Yangon with winds of 130 km/h (80 mph).[25] Early on May 3 the IMD issued its final advisory on the storm.[26] It quickly weakened after turning to the northeast toward the rugged terrain near the Myanmar-Thailand border, and after deteriorating to minimal tropical storm status, the JTWC issued its last advisory on Nargis.[27]


Western Bay of Bengal

In Sri Lanka, the cyclone produced heavy rainfall, which led to flooding and landslides across ten districts in the country. The districts of Ratnapura and Kegalle were the most affected, where more than 3,000 families were displaced. Thousands of houses were flooded, with 21 reported destroyed. The rainfall left 4,500 people homeless,[28] and more than 35,000 people were affected on the island.[29] Three casualties were reported on the island.[28]

The India Meteorological Department recommended for fishermen to not sail into the ocean during the passage of Nargis. Strong waves and gusty winds were expected along the Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh coastline in India.[8] Additionally, the influence of the cyclone lowered temperatures along the Indian coastline, which had been affected by a severe heat wave.[30]

When the cyclone was originally expected to strike near Bangladesh, officials requested for farmers to hurriedly finish harvesting the rice crop; at the time, the country was experiencing severe food shortages from Cyclone Sidr in the previous year and flooding earlier in the year, and a direct strike from Nargis would have resulted in destroyed crops due to strong winds.[31]


It is estimated that over 10,000 were killed by the cyclone.[32] As a result the Burmese government has declared five regions – Yangon, Ayeyarwady, Bago Divisions and Mon and Kayin States currently as disaster areas. Thousands of buildings were destroyed; in the town of Labutta, located in the Ayeyarwady Division, state television reported that 75% of buildings had collapsed and 20% had their roofs ripped off.[33]

A diplomat in the city of Yangon spoke to the Reuters news agency, giving them a description of the scene. He said that the area around him looked like a ‘war zone’ as a result of the cyclone. An official from the United Nations also commented on the situation, at the time of the event. “It’s a bad situation. Almost all the houses are smashed. People are in a terrible situation,” he said. Another UN representative also spoke on the incident. He reported that “The Irrawaddy delta was hit extremely hard not only because of the wind and rain but because of the storm surge.” The Daily Telegraph, a UK newspaper, reported at that the food price in Burma could be affected by this disaster.[34][35]

See also

Tropical cyclones Portal
  • Geography of Burma
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