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 moved closer to southern India and strengthened on Wednesday. At 4:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday the center of Tropical Cyclone Gaja was located at latitude 11.7°N and longitude 83.6°E which put it about 260 miles (420 km) east of Cuddalore, India. Gaja was moving toward the southwest at 10 m.p.h. (16 km/h). The maximum sustained wind speed was 50 m.p.h. (80 km/h) and there were wind gusts to 65 m.p.h. (105 km/h). The minimum surface pressure was 996 mb.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja strengthened on Wednesday. More thunderstorms developed near the center of circulation. Some microwave images exhibited the appearance of an eyelike feature in the lower levels. The inner end of a rainband appeared to be wrapping around the center of Gaja. There were several bands of stronger thunderstorms in the western half of Tropical Cyclone Gaja. Rainbands in the eastern half of the tropical cyclone consisted primarily of showers and lower clouds. The storms around the center of circulation were generating strong upper level divergence which was pumping mass away to the northeast of Gaja. The circulation around Tropical Cyclone Gaja was relatively small. Winds to tropical storm force only extended out about 65 miles (105 km) from the center of circulation.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja will move through an environment favorable for intensification during the next 24 hours. Gaja will move over water where the Sea Surface Temperature is near 29°C. It will move southwest of an upper level ridge. The ridge will produce southeasterly winds which will blow toward the top of the circulation. Those winds will restrict upper level divergence to the southeast of Gaja. They will also cause moderate vertical wind shear, which is probably the reason why most of the stronger thunderstorms are occurring in the western half of the circulation. The wind shear will slow intensification, but Tropical Cyclone Gaja will strengthen during the next 24 hours. Gaja could intensify to the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon.
Tropical Cyclone Gaja will move south of a ridge in the middle troposphere during the next 48 hours. The ridge will steer Gaja on a track that is a little south of straight westward. On its anticipated track Tropical Cyclone Gaja will approach the coast of southern India in about 24 hours. Gaja will make landfall in Tamil Nadu between Cuddalore and Nagappattinam in a little over a day. It could be the equivalent of a hurricane/typhoon when it makes landfall. Gaja will bring strong winds and it could cause a storm surge of 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 metres) at the coast. Tropical Cyclone Gaja will drop locally heavy rain over portions of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. Heavy rain could cause flash floods in some locations.