Tropical Cyclone Asani threatens eastern India as another brutal heat wave continues across the country

Although the cyclone may bring some relief from the heat, it will be too far away to affect most of the country – and could make the heat worse for some.

Violent cyclonic storm Asani is in the Bay of Bengal, with winds of 100 to 110 km/h (62 to 68 mph) and higher gusts, making it the equivalent of a tropical storm. It is expected to make landfall on India’s east coast late Wednesday morning or early Wednesday afternoon (early Wednesday morning ET), the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said.

As the storm moves on a northwesterly track, parts of India’s eastern central coast will experience widespread wind and rain effects.

Asani is the second storm to hit India this season. The first storm, in March in southern India, was not named.

A slow-moving storm could bring catastrophic rains

By Thursday, the storm will most likely begin to curve further north-northeast, hugging the coast and affecting Odisha.

Interaction with land will cause the storm to gradually weaken, although it will still produce quite a bit of rain as it slows.

“Now that Asani’s forward speed has slowed significantly, longer lasting heavy rains are possible along the coast, increasing the possibility of flooding,” CNN meteorologist Chad Myers said.

When it comes to death and destruction with tropical cyclones, rain is a key factor to consider.

“Slow storms are often catastrophic because of the amount of rain they can bring,” CNN meteorologist Taylor Ward said.

Parts of the Indian coast near where the storm made landfall could receive up to 150 mm (6 inches) of rainfall over the next few days.

Asani’s cloud cover may provide some relief from the heat along parts of the coast. However, the storm could also mean those further inland are seeing temperatures soar.

Not enough to relieve scorching temperatures

This storm comes amid a brutal heatwave that is affecting much of central India. Temperatures it soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) on Tuesday.

Severe heatwave conditions will persist as temperatures could rise another 2-3 degrees Celsius over the next few days, according to the Indian Meteorological Department.

This heat wave continues a brutal heat wave in April in parts of the country, including New Delhi.

“They experienced 19 days of the month with high temperature above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), which is well above their April average high temperature of 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 degrees Fahrenheit)” , said CNN meteorologist Robert Shakelford. “This heat was also significant as it was the hottest April for North West India, well above their April normal.”

Asani could make the heat wave worse due to the effect of the rapidly rising air in and around the eye, or low pressure center, and the descending air and higher pressure the along its periphery.

“This will act to limit any cloud formation, leading to full sun and warming temperatures,” CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said. “It brings rainfall and cooler temperatures to the regions it hits, but for central and north/western regions (of India), it would tend to make the heatwave worse.”

The only relief for the rest of India will come with the onset of the monsoons.

The start of the monsoon season

Cyclones generally do not occur during the monsoon season because too much wind shear—strong upper-level winds that tear apart tropical systems—in the atmosphere tends to inhibit development.

However, at the beginning of the season, cyclones can develop while the wind shear is still quite weak.

This chart shows when the monsoon season typically starts across India.

While the monsoon – which relieves the incessant heat – will begin to reach the southernmost parts of India by the end of May, it will generally not reach New Delhi until the beginning of July, leaving plenty of room for more hazard days Heat.

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