Amphan - Maiden Super Cyclone of the Century

Gautam Kumar Das

In the ultimate fact of nature, this time too, Sunderbans is lulled with the sweetest tragic melody of devastating strike composed of the tunes of the Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan (pronounced as Um-Pun). Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan batters over North & South 24 Parganas districts and Kolkata on 20 May, 2020 barreling in from the Bay of Bengal with the wind speed of up to 185km/h where it claimed 80 lives in West Bengal and 16 killed as storm hits Bangladesh coast causing heavy rains and tidal surges. Three deaths were reported including that of a 3 months old girl in Odisha as extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan barreled on 20 May.

In Kolkata metropolis, it is tall trees that are first assailed by the storm. Huge damage of properties, houses and households, large trees, bamboo groves, communication and electric poles etc as reported due to the Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan leads to a severe natural disaster. In the morning of 21 May, Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan lies as a well-marked low over North Bangladesh and adjoining area. Weather office hopes that there will be no further threat for the Gangetic West Bengal including severely damaged and destroyed North & South 24 Parganas and Kolkata.

The cyclonic storm Amphan has strengthened to the massive storm to hit India and Bangladesh in modern history. Its 2201 km across, with an eye 20 km in size, a steady wind of 165 km/h gusting at 185 km/h is equivalent to a Hurricane Cat 5 generated on 13 May in the east Bay of Bengal. The deep depression in the Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclone Amphan, which is centred around 10.50N and 86.40E, about 650 km of Chennai and on 17 May, Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) confirms Cyclone Amphan, the first cyclone in North Indian Ocean for 2020, heading towards West Bengal and Bangladesh and then it’s official as the Cyclone Amphan is declared by IMD.

Amphan cyclone is so massive, its moisture plume covers all the stretch of West Bengal including Digha, Sankarpur, Tajpur and Mandarmani. Naturally Cyclone Amphan will have catastrophic damaging potential with extremely heavy rains and high-velocity winds, along with and off the coast of Odisha and West Bengal. Further, IMD forecasts landfall of Amphan is still a suspense. Impact of Cyclone Amphan on coastal West Bengal and Bangladesh will be mostly on 19 or 20 May, 2020. IMD Authority, on 17 May, advises fishermen in sea to return to the coast by 18 May positively. Not only to the fishermen, but IMD advises to the Government of West Bengal to combat cyclone Amphan by taking immediate measures for disruption of rail road at several places, extensive damage to standing crops, plantations, orchards, blowing down of palm and coconut trees, uprooting of large bushy trees, large boats and ships may get torn from their moorings, extensive damage to all types of kutcha houses, some damage to old badly managed pucca structures, potential threat from flying objects like tin shed etc, extensive uprooting of communication and power poles.

Meanwhile, Amphan qualifies to be the first Super Cyclone of this century in the Bay of Bengal as the winds in the inner periphery of the storm in excess of 200 km/h and likely to build up further to be in excess of 225 km/h. The Super Cyclone continues to retain and refine its eye as a sharp pin-hole round structure with a diameter of 20 km clearly seen in the satellite image published and displayed by the IMD in the storm that has moved nearly northward with a speed of 12 km/h on 17 &18 May, 17 km/h on 19 May and 22 km/h on 20th May respectively. On 20 May, landfall process commenced since 2.30 pm and continued for about 4 hours. The forward sector of the wall cloud region is entering into land in West Bengal. Ultimately, in their Bulletin No. 13 dated 20.05.2020, issued at 1830 hours IST, IMD declared that Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan crossed West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm with the speed of 155-165 km/h gusting to 185 km/h across Sunderbans near Lat 21.650N and 88.30E between 1530 & 1730 hours IST of 20th May nearby Dakshin Chandanpiri of Namkhana Block under South 24 Parganas District of West Bengal.

Amphan is another crisis during unprecedented crisis in the country as corona lock down floods earth quake, heavy rain and now cyclone Amphan. To combat this crisis, National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director General S N Pradhan said that 37 NDRF teams have been deployed in seven districts of Odisha and six districts of West Bengal in view of Cyclone Amphan. The force is fully geared with all equipment and paraphernalia to face the developing situation for Amphan that turns into a Super Cyclonic Storm. But with all measures on behalf of both state and central governments, Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan devastated almost the entire areas of North & South 24 Parganas districts almost entirely including Kolkata and other districts of the South Bengal partially, though the storm is likely to retain the status of Super Cyclonic Storm for 12 hours before it downgrades in the open waters itself to Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm. This will happen because of relatively cool water and vertical wind shear is a change in wind speed or direction with change in altitude, it inhibits tropical cyclones. Anyway, West Bengal faces a drastic damage overall amounting to about thousands crore Rupees. Amphan, qualified as the first Super Cyclone of the century in the Bay of Bengal damages almost the entire South 24 Parganas district due to its huge wind speed and heavy rainfall. Readings of wind speed and rainfall at South 24 Parganas district in the wake of cyclone Amphan up to 2 pm on 20 May, the day of striking, are recorded by the IMD.

Sl No


Wind Speed (km/h)

Wind Speed (km/h)



Mousuni Island
G Plot (Pathar Pratima)
Diamond Harbour
Budge Budge




Rainfall data for other locations up to the process of landfall from till 5.30 pm in the afternoon of 20 May is recorded by the IMD.
Digha - 44.1 mm
Haldia - 21.5 mm
Kolkata - 17.6 mm
Dum Dum - 5.3 mm

IMD warns even after the landfall process that the North & South 24 Parganas districts including the Kolkata metropolis are to witness lull as the eye of the Super Cyclone Amphan passes through, but heavy rains, strong winds will resume in 30 minutes and that strong winds will resume in 30 minutes and that strong winds lashing over 2 hours destroy the said areas. Anyway, by the way of playing destruction with havoc devastation, maiden cyclone of this premonsoon season Amphan grabs the distinction of becoming the only Super Cyclone in the Bay of Bengal since the year 2000. As a consequence of such ravager Super Cyclone Amphan, huge loss of wildlife including Royal Bengal tiger is reported from the Sunderbans. At least 80 people killed, 10000 homes destroyed and millions remain without power as the cyclone batters West Bengal. It devastated coastal villages, hampered by torn down power lines and flooding over large tracts of land and trees uprooted by stormy winds. Hon’ble Prime Minister of India announces 1000 crores interim relief for West Bengal after cyclone survey. Prime Minister also announced Rs 2 lakh each for the families who died in the cyclone in West Bengal and 50,000 each for the injured after he undertook an aerial survey of the areas ravaged by Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan that has killed 80 people in the state. Prime Minister accompanied by the Chief Minister and Governor of West Bengal on the helicopter assured the center’s full support for West Bengal for reconstruction and rehabilitation. But the critics interpret that the sum of 1000 crore Rupees is exactly 12626 crore less than the money that the Government of India actually owes West Bengal. And this is not aid. It is dues. The Government of India owes West Bengal 13623 crore Rupees and this money will be crucial in helping the State back on its fee in the aftermath of COVID-19 and Super Cyclone Amphan. 1000 crores in advance aid is meaningless.

Anyway, Chief Minister of West Bengal expressed in her statement that Super Cylone Amphan has left a trail of devastation beyond people’s thoughts. While the material damage is substantial, Bengal stands united in this time of crisis. Together people will overcome this because nothing can dampen the spirit and strength of the inhabitants of West Bengal. But who is there that can reverse the decrees of fate - what nature wills, no frost can kill.

May 25, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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