Cyclone Michaung caused widespread destruction in southern India • Earth.com

Cyclone Michaung caused widespread destruction in southern India

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features Cyclone Michaung, which slammed into the southern Indian coast on December 5, 2023 with intense winds and torrential rainfall. Michaung made landfall between Nellore and Kavali in the state of Andhra Pradesh. 

“When it made landfall, the storm had sustained winds of 90 to 100 kilometers (56 to 62 miles) per hour, according to the India Meteorological Department,” said NASA.

“The VIIRS (Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite) on the NOAA-20 satellite captured this image after landfall, as the weakening storm moved northward and winds had slowed to 65 to 75 kilometers per hour.”

As the cyclone approached, tall waves crashed into southern coastal towns and entire villages were submerged, according to a report from Reuters. Trees were uprooted, roads were damaged, and cars were swept away. 

By Wednesday, rescue operations were launched in Chennai, a city of over six million people. Rescuers used inflatable rafts and ropes to pull people from their flooded homes and air force helicopters dropped food to some of those who remained stranded.

Among the widespread destruction, there have been 13 confirmed deaths due to causes including falling structures and electrocution.

Cyclones are relatively common along the southern coast of India, particularly in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. This region is prone to cyclonic activity primarily due to its geographical location and certain meteorological factors. 

Cyclones in this area tend to occur mainly in two seasons: the pre-monsoon season (April-June) and the post-monsoon season (October-December).

During these periods, warm ocean temperatures, high humidity, and favorable wind patterns contribute to the development and intensification of cyclones.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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