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Cyclone Phailin

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Cyclone Phailin

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Phailin
Extremely severe cyclonic storm (IMD scale)
Category 5 (Saffir–Simpson scale)
Phailin near peak intensity on October 11
Formed October 4, 2013 (2013-10-04)
Dissipated October 14, 2013 (2013-10-14)
Highest winds 3-minute sustained: 215 km/h (130 mph)
1-minute sustained: 260 km/h (160 mph)
Lowest pressure 940 hPa (mbar); 27.76 inHg
(Estimated at 918 hPa (27.11 inHg) by the JTWC)
Fatalities 45 total
Damage $696 million (2014 USD)
Areas affected Thailand, Myanmar, India
Part of the 2013 Pacific typhoon season and
the North Indian Ocean cyclone season

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Phailin (Thai: ไพลิน meaning "sapphire")[1] was the most intense tropical cyclone to make landfall in India since the 1999 Odisha cyclone.[2] The system was first noted as a tropical depression on October 4, 2013 within the Gulf of Thailand, to the west of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. Over the next few days, it moved westwards within an area of low to moderate vertical wind shear, before as it passed over the Malay Peninsula, it moved out of the Western Pacific Basin on October 6. It emerged into the Andaman Sea during the next day and moved west-northwest into an improving environment for further development before the system was named Phailin on October 9, after it had developed into a cyclonic storm and passed over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands into the Bay of Bengal.

During the next day Phailin intensified rapidly and became a very severe cyclonic storm on October 10, equivalent to a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS). On October 11, the system became equivalent to a category 5 hurricane on the SSHWS before it started to weaken during the next day as it approached the Indian state of Odisha. It made landfall later that day, near Gopalpur in Odisha coast at around 2130 IST (1600 UTC). It subsequently weakened over land as a result of frictional forces, before it was last noted on October 14, as it degenerated into a well marked area of low pressure.

Officials from Odisha's state government said that around 12 million people may be affected. The cyclone prompted India's biggest evacuation in 23 years with more than 550,000 people moved up from the coastline in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh to safer places.[3] Most of the evacuated people had been sheltered in 500 specially-built cyclone camps in the two states. Each cyclone shelter could accommodate up to 1,500 people while their ground floors might be used as cattle shelters.[4]

Meteorological history

On October 4, the high pressure. The IMD reported that the system had intensified into a cyclonic storm and named it Phailin.[16][17]

Animation of Phailin over the coast of Odisha

After it was named, Phailin rapidly intensified further, and became equivalent to a category 1 hurricane on the Saffir-Simpson hurricane wind scale (SSHWS) early on October 10. After bands of atmospheric convection had wrapped into the systems low level circulation center and formed an eye feature.[18][19] Later that day the IMD reported that the system had become a very severe cyclonic storm, before the JTWC reported that Phailin had become equivalent to a category 4 hurricane on the SSHWS, after it had rapidly intensified throughout that day.[20][21] Early the next day the system underwent an eye-wall replacement cycle and formed a new eye-wall which subsequently consolidated.[22] After the new eye-wall had consolidated the system slightly intensified further, with the JTWC reporting that the system had reached its peak intensity, with 1-minute sustained wind speeds of 260 km/h (160 mph) which made it equivalent to a category 5 hurricane on the SSHWS.[23][24] Early on October 12, the system started to weaken as it underwent a second eye-wall replacement cycle, before Phailin's eye started rapidly to deteriorate as it moved towards the Indian coast.[25][26] The system subsequently made landfall later that day near Gopalpur in Odisha, at around 22:30 IST (17:00 UTC) as a very severe cyclonic storm.[12] After the system made landfall, the JTWC issued their final advisory on Phailin, before during the next day the IMD reported that the system had weakened into a cyclonic storm.[27][28]

Preparations and impact

Phailin in its second eyewall replacement cycle while nearing landfall on 12 October 2013.

Andaman and Nicobar Islands

On October 8, the IMD warned the Andaman and Nicobar Islands that squally to gale force wind speeds would be recorded over the islands and surrounding sea areas during the next two days.[11] They also warned that heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over the islands while some damage to thatched huts, power and communication lines was expected.[11] These warnings were continued until October 11, when the IMD noted that no further adverse weather, would occur over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.[29] Within the islands the Directorate of Health Services opened a Medical Camp in Rangat, while the Deputy Commissioner, Police and Fire Services all ensured there were no casualties.[30] Between October 8–10, rainfall totals of 734 mm (28.9 in) and 434 mm (17.1 in) were recorded in Mayabunder and on the Long Island.[30][31][32][33]

Andhra Pradesh

The Andhra Pradesh government and the Chief Minister met representatives of the Army and Navy seeking their assistance if required.[34] Utility workers striking against the division of Andhra Pradesh called off their strike partly in view of the cyclone threat to the coastal districts.[35] The state government ordered the evacuation of 64,000 people living in low-lying areas.[36]

The coastal districts of the state escaped the force of the cyclone. However, Srikakulam district experienced heavy rains and gale-force winds which uprooted tall trees and electric poles, shutting down power to areas.[37] Power and communication lines went down across the district. Transport services to the region were hit as most flights operating out of Bhuvaneswar and Visakhapatnam were cancelled and several trains were either rerouted or cancelled. The movement of vehicles on National Highway-5 that passes through Ganjam and sreekulam districts also stopped.[38] Throughout the state, one person was killed and damage amounted to 500 million rupee (US$8.1 million).[39] A total of 134,426 people were evacuated in the wake of the storm.[40] Against a normal usage of around 9,700 MW, the suspension in transmission had brought consumption down to 9,200MW.[4]


Twenty-four hour rainfall forecast from Phailin.

In Odisha, the government issued a high alert to the districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati, and cancelled the Dusshera holidays of employees of all 30 districts of the state, asking them to ensure the safety of people. Food and relief materials were stocked-up at storm shelters across the state.[41] Distant storm warning signal was raised to two at the ports of Paradip and Gopalpur of the state.[42] The Chief Minister of Odisha wrote to the Union Defence Minister seeking support from defence personnel, particularly the Air Force and Navy, for rescue and relief operations.[43] Odisha government had made arrangements for over 1,000,560 food packets for relief.[44] Indian Air Force helicopters were kept on standby in West Bengal to move in for help at short notice. A total of 1,154,725 people were evacuated in the wake of the storm and the following floods in the state.[40]

Heavy rainfall resulted in the death of a woman in Bhubaneswar after a tall tree fell on her.[45] Gusty winds resulted in downing of trees and powerlines.[46] It was also reported that due to high winds, seven other people were killed in Odisha.[47] In a period of 24 hours ending on 13 October, Banki and Balimundali in Odisha received heavy rainfall of 381 mm and 305 mm respectively.[48]

As the storm moved inland, wind speeds picked up from 100 km/h (62 mph) to 200 km/h (120 mph) within 30 minutes. Brahmapur, the closest city to the point of landfall suffered devastation triggered by gale winds, with fallen trees, uprooted electric poles and broken walls in various places of the city. However, there were no reports of damage to property or life according to the city police.[37] As of 18 October, 44 people have been reported dead from Odisha.[49]

Hit hardest by the cyclone, the coastal district of Ganjam was estimated to have suffered a loss of at least Rs 3,000 crore in the nature's fury which had deprived lakhs of people of their livelihood and damaged 2.4 lakh houses. Moved by the tragedy that had struck the helpless people here, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, after a visit to relief camps, ordered payment of Rs 500 each to the affected even as the administration began distribution of free of cost rations for the following two months.[50]

Roads in Paradip and Jagatsinghpur were strewn with advertising billboards and upturned cars, while slum dwellers in Paradip appeared to have suffered the worst damage with many huts damaged and destroyed.[38]

The high winds and gushing sea that the cycone brought to Chilika Lake, India’s largest coastal lagoon and home to a large number of endangered animal and plant species, had hit the eco-system that may take years to recover. Mangroves had been uprooted for kilometers. Sea water has left vast stretches of land unsuitable for trees or wild plants. Though the cyclone spared Chilika’s most famous residents — the dolphins, there are a few concerns.[38]

Losses across Odisha amounted to 42.4 billion rupees (US$688 million).[51] Phailin damaged crops over 500,000 hectares of agricultural land throughout the state.[38] In the state, the normal power consumption is around 2,800MW but due to the power cut, it had come down to 1,300MW.[4]


During October 13, heavy rain from the outer bands of Phailin lashed Jharkhand. A rainfall total of 74.6 mm (2.94 in) was recorded at Ranchi, while Jamshedpur recorded 52.4 mm (2.06 in), and Bokaro recorded 58.4 mm (2.30 in).[52] Most of the small rivers of Ranchi like Harmu River, Jumar River, Potpoto River, River flowing under the Over bridge etc. were overflowing due to heavy rain in the city. Even many of the local ponds were overflowing. Trees were uprooted and low land area faced water logging.[50]

Barring an early morning lightning strike at Simdradhao village in Giridih district in which a person was killed, according to police, there were no reports of rain-related casualty anywhere in the state. The Disaster Management Department and the district administrations were monitoring the situation.[52]

At least 400 huts were destroyed following heavy rains accompanied by gales in Pakur district of Jharkhand. Triggered by heavy rains, a couple of pillars of the Irga river bridge were damaged in Giridih District.[38]

Other Indian states

The areas of West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh are likely to experience heavy rainfall and strong winds. There is risk of trees falling and disruption of light or electricity poles. However, the effect here will not be as severe as that in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

A Merchant Ship MV Bingo was feared to have sunk in rough seas off the coast of West Bengal due to Cyclone Phailin. The crew of 20 were spotted in lifeboats by the Coast Guard and were rescued.[53]


October rain caused by Phailin cyclone in Panchkhal Valley

The eastern region of Nepal experienced heavy rainfall and winds while it was lighter in the central and western part of the country. Rainfall began in the eastern and mid-western region since early morning on 13 October and began in the central regional too in the afternoon . The impact of the cyclone continued until 15 October.[54] Nepalese great festival Dashain was affected by the October rain. It caused flood in Kosi and Gandaki rivers in Nepal.[55]

See also


  1. ^ Why cyclone Phailin is named so (CNN–IBN), 2013-10-11.
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External links

  • India Meteorological Department
  • Joint Typhoon Warning Center
  • Rapid Response, India
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