Tropical Cyclone Gaja made landfall on the coast of southern India just south of Nagappattinam on Thursday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Thursday the center of Tropical Storm Gaja was located at latitude 10.5°N and longitude 79.7°E which put it about 10 miles (15 km) south of Nagappattinam, India. Gaja was moving toward the west-southwest at 11 m.p.h. (17 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 85 m.p.h. (135 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 100 m.p.h. (160 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 974 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja strengthened rapidly into the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon while it approached the coast of Southern India. A small circular eye formed at the center of circulation. A ring of strong thunderstorms surrounded the eye and the strongest winds were occurring in that ring of storms. Several bands of showers and thunderstorms were revolving around the core of Tropical Cyclone Gaja. The circulation of Gaja was small, which allowed it to strengthen quickly before landfall. Winds to hurricane/typhoon force only extended out about 10 miles (15 km) from the center of circulation. Winds to tropical storm force only extended out about 65 miles (105 km) from the center.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja produced winds strong enough to cause damage in the area near Nagappattinam. Those winds could bring a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 meters) near where the center made landfall. The small size of Tropical Cyclone Gaja and the fact it did not intensify until it neared the coast will limit the magnitude of the storm surge. Gaja is forecast to move westward across southern India. Tropical Cyclone Gaja will weaken when it moves inland but it will drop locally heavy rain over Tamil Nadu, Kerala and southern Karnataka. The heavy rain could cause flash flooding in those regions.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja will weaken while it moves across southern India. The small size of the circulation and mountains in that area will contribute to a fairly rapid weakening. The circulation in the lower levels could be seriously disrupted when it moves over the mountains, but the circulation in the middle levels may persist. Some numerical models are forecasting that Tropical Cyclone Gaja could strengthen back into the equivalent of a tropical storm when it moves over the Arabian Sea.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja formed over the Bay of Bengal on Sunday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Gaja was located at latitude 12.9°N and longitude 86.7°E which put it about 500 miles (805 km) east of Chennai, India. Gaja was moving toward the west-southwest at 8 m.p.h. (13 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 1002 mb.
An area of low pressure moving over the Bay of Bengal strengthened on Sunday and the India Meteorological Department classified the system as Tropical Cyclone Gaja. The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Gaja is still organizing. There is a distinct low level center of circulation. A short band of thunderstorms is west and north of the center. Several other bands of showers and thunderstorms are developing in other parts of Tropical Cyclone Gaja. One stronger band is east of the center of circulation and another stronger band is southeast of the center. Storms near the center are beginning to generate upper level divergence which will pump mass away from the tropical cyclone.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja will move through an environment somewhat favorable for intensification during the next 48 hours. Gaja will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C. It will move south of an upper level ridge. The ridge will produce easterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation. The winds will cause some vertical wind shear, but the shear will not be strong enough to prevent intensification. Tropical Cyclone Gaja will intensify and it could be nearly equivalent to a hurricane/typhoon in two or three days.
The upper level ridge will steer Tropical Cyclone Gaja in a generally west-southwesterly direction. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Gaja will approach the coast of southern India in about 72 hours. Gaja could be nearly the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon at that time.
Elsewhere, over the South Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Alcide still was moving slowly east of the northern end of Madgascar and Tropical Cyclone Bouchra developed between Diego Garcia and Cocos Island. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Alcide was located at latitude 12.3°N and longitude 51.9°E which put it about 170 miles (275 km) east of Antisiranana, Madagascar. Alcide was moving toward the northwest at 4 m.p.h. (6 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 40 m.p.h. (65 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 997 mb.
At 4:00 p.m. EDT on Sunday the center of Tropical Cyclone Bouchra was located at latitude 5.4°S and longitude 89.1°E which put it about 700 miles (1130 km) northwest of Cocos Island, Australia. Bouchra was moving toward the east at 2 m.p.h. (3 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 45 m.p.h. (75 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 60 m.p.h. (95 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 999 mb.