India: Deadly Ockhi may bring rare rain to Gujarat; Eastern coast on alert for new threat
December 03, 2017; 10:54 AM
Severe Cyclonic Storm Ockhi and a second brewing tropical threat may impact both coasts of India during the first week of December.
The more immediate concern is Ockhi, which is currently churning offshore of southern India in the Arabian Sea. Additional tropical development is expected this week in the southern Bay of Bengal.
Ockhi strengthened into a very severe cyclonic storm on Friday and became the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans on Saturday. It has since began to weaken.
The worst of Ockhi's rain and wind will remain well offshore though the beginning of the week.
Ockhi is being blamed for the deaths of at least 19 people as it lashed southern India with heavy rain and gusty winds late last week, according to The India Express. They also report that a total of 690 people have been rescued, including 357 fishermen.
Hazards to boaters and swimmers will also gradually expand across the Arabian Sea through the beginning of the week as Ockhi churns up dangerously rough seas.
Ockhi is expected to turn toward northwest India early this week, but should be well past its peak intensity. The storm will encounter a more hostile environment, causing it to dramatically weaken into a deep depression or depression by the time it moves inland around Gujarat.
The risk for flooding rain and damaging winds will lessen as Ockhi weakens. Localized downpours still may spread across Gujarat, southeastern Rajasthan and coastal Maharashtra early in the week. Showers associated with Ockhi are likely to fizzle before reaching New Delhi.
Isolated flooding and travel disruptions may result. Any rain can mix with oil residue left on roads and create slippery spots.
However, more residents may view the rainfall as beneficial and air quality may improve across the region for a few days.
December is a very dry month across western India. December 2008 was the last time that Rajkot received measurable rain this month.
Ockhi is not the only tropical system that may impact India during the first week of December. A new tropical cyclone will attempt to brew in the southern Bay of Bengal this week.
"There is concern that the system reaches cyclone intensity before impacting eastern India late week," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.
Areas from northern Andhar Pradesh to West Bengal are being put on alert for potential impacts. This includes Puri, Kakinada and Visakhapatnam.
"The main threat will be heavy rain and flooding, but damaging winds may also be a concern depending on the strength of the system when it reaches the coast," Nicholls said.
Seas will also build and endanger those with shipping interests across the Bay of Bengal as the cyclone takes shape.
Depending on the development with this system, it is possible that heavy rain races well out ahead and soaks the eastern coast by midweek.