37 years ago the "Bhola Cyclone" hit Bangladesh (then East Pakistan), which was the deadliest tropical cyclone ever recorded, and one of the deadliest natural disasters in modern times. Death toll estimates range from 300,000 to as high as 500,000 because of a storm surge in the low-lying delta.
The storm pundit Chris Mooney writes in the Daily Green:
Cyclone Sidr, in the Bay of Bengal, is explosively intensifying. I don't know how strong the storm is right now -- the official tracking agency, the Indian Meteorological Department in New Delhi, lacks a recent update as I write this. To my eye the storm looks like at least a Category 3 or 4, and automated estimates would agree with that assessment. In short, it looks like this storm is going to strike India or Bangladesh, and that it may be very powerful when it does so.The Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre said in its report that it may hit Orissa by Thursday. The updated status:
"The very severe cyclonic storm over South–East Bay of Bengal moved northerly direction and lay centred at 5-30 pm over Southeast and adjoining central Bay of Bengal at about 850 km South East of Paradip,”According to the Daily Star Bangladesh meteorological department raised cautionary signal number 4:
The hurricane was centred 1115 kilometres south-southwest of Chittagong, 1030km south-southwest of Cox's Bazar and 1090km south of Mongla seaport. It is likely to intensify further and move in the north and northwest direction. If it is so, then the hurricane should reach Orissa coast by tomorrow (Thursday).Lets hope it does not land up in any populous region.
(Get updated Satellite Photo courtesy of the Indian Meteorological department)
Update: The Storm Pundit reports Sidr is getting worse:
Cyclone Sidr, currently in the Bay of Bengal and headed towards India or Bangladesh, recently became the 15th Category 4 or 5 storm of 2007, with sustained winds estimated at 115 knots or more than 130 miles per hour. Now, it's all a matter of where and when.Update II:Bloomberg reports quoting the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center:
Tropical Cyclone Sidr moved across the Bay of Bengal packing winds of 213 kilometers (133 miles) per hour on a path for Kolkata in India.Hat tip: Kathy for sending me links of updates.
Update III: BDNews24 reports:
The Met office Wednesday evening sounded great danger signal No. 10 for Mongla port and great danger signal 9 for Chittagong and Cox's Bazar as a severe storm in the Bay of Bengal was expected to make landfall Thursday.
The weather warning left at least 100 tourists trapped on the St Martin's Island as ships and country boats were ordered off the sea. The Chittagong Port Authority suspended operations.
Bangladesh's main tourist resort, Cox's Bazar, wore a deserted look on Wednesday and hotels were largely empty, officials and witnesses said.
Picture courtesy BDNEWS24.COM.