Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory shows Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, the fifth-strongest storm in the Arabian Sea in more than 20 years.
As India is faced with a catastrophic second wave of COVID-19, Tauktae has struck the country’s western coast in the state of Gujarat.
The storm reached peak intensity on May 17, 2021 as a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 140 miles per hour.
Through Tuesday, flash flooding is a threat across northwestern India due to storm surge that will persist many hours after landfall.
Reports suggest that storm surge may exceed four meters in some areas. At least 12 people have been killed and hundreds of homes have been destroyed.
The Indian Navy is in the process of rescuing around 273 personnel of the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), who are stranded on a drifting barge off the coast of Mumbai.
Cyclones are not very common in the Arabian Sea, which typically experiences just one or two storms per year. According to NASA, the North Indian Ocean generates only about seven percent of the world’s tropical cyclones, but storms can be quite devastating when they occur because of the large number of people who live along low-lying coastlines.
NOAA researchers have observed an increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones in the Arabian Sea. This jump in intensity appears to be mainly driven by global warming and rising ocean temperatures.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory