Dangerous Tropical Cyclone Fani Near Northeast India

Dangerous Tropical Cyclone Fani neared the coast of northeastern India on Thursday.  Fani rapidly intensified into the nearly the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.  At 11:00 a.m. EDT on Thursday the center of Tropical Cyclone Fani was located at latitude 18.0°N and longitude 84.9°E which put it about 100 miles (160 km) east of Visakhapatnam, India.  Fani was moving toward the north at 11 m.p.h. (17 km/h).  The maximum sustained wind speed was 155 m.p.h. (250 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 190 m.p.h. (305 km/h).  The minimum surface pressure was 918 mb.

Tropical Cyclone Fani intensified rapidly during recent hours.  A circular eye with a diameter of 20 miles (32 km) developed at the center of circulation.  A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms.  Bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Fani.  Storms near the core were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away from the tropical cyclone.

The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Fani grew larger as it intensified.  Winds to hurricane/typhoon force extended out about 60 miles (95 km) from the center of circulation.  Winds to tropical storm force extended out about 185 miles (295 km) from the center.  The Hurricane Intensity Index (HII) for Tropical Cyclone Fani was 33.3.  The Hurricane Size Index (HSI) was 21.7 and the Hurricane Wind Intensity Size Index (HWISI) was 55.0.  Tropical Cyclone Fani was capable of causing widespread significant damage.

Tropical Cyclone Fani is moving around the western end of a subtropical ridge.  The ridge is steering Fani toward the north.  On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Fani is likely to make landfall near Brahmapur, India in about 12 hours.  An upper level trough over India will steer Fani toward the northeast after it makes landfall.  Tropical Cyclone Fani could pass near Puri, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack and Kolkata (Calcutta), India.

Tropical Cyclone Fani will remain in a favorable environment during the 12 hours prior to landfall.  Fani will be over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 30°C.  It will move through an environment where the upper level winds are weak and there will be little vertical wind shear.  Tropical Cyclone Fani will weaken after landfall.  The upper level trough over India will produce stronger southwesterly winds, which will increase the vertical wind shear after Fani makes landfall.  More wind shear and more friction over the land will cause Tropical Cyclone Fani to weaken to the equivalent of a tropical storm within 24 hours after landfall occurs.

Tropical Cyclone Fani is a dangerous tropical cyclone.  The strengthen and size of Fani will create the potential for widespread significant damage.  The counterclockwise circulation will cause the winds to blow water toward the coast along the northern Bay of Bengal.  Tropical Cyclone Fani could generate a storm surge of 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6.0 meters) in bays, estuaries and the mouths of rivers which act as funnels during storm surges.  Heavy rain could cause inland fresh water flooding in parts of northeastern India and Bangladesh.  The greatest threats are to the Indian states of Odisha (Orissa) and West Bengal.