Cyclone Thane hits India

Cyclone Thane approaching India. Image Credit: NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS)

Cyclone Thane, with the strength of a Category 1 hurricane of 65 knots (75 miles per hour winds or 120 kilometers per hour), struck southeastern India on December 30, 2011. Thane hit the coast of Tamil Nadu on Friday and made landfall between Puducherry and Cuddalore. Thane, commonly referenced as a cyclone instead of a hurricane or typhoon, formed in the Indian ocean on December 25, 2011. As of now, Cyclone Thane is responsible for killing at least 19 people.

Visible satellite image taken December 30, 2011 of Cyclone Thane. Image Credit: INDIA METEOROLOGICAL DEPT.

Strong winds and heavy rain pushed ashore between Puducherry and Cuddalore. Many transportation services were delayed or closed as the storm moved into the area, disrupting train and bus services. Roads in Cuddalore were damaged by Thane which prevented aid from entering the area. A lot of the damaged roads were likely from uprooted trees that made roads impassible. A lot of houses along the coast owned by fisherman were reportedly damaged, but the extent of the damage is still uncertain. NDTV reports that storm surge about 1.0 to 1.5 meters above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate the low lying areas of Puducherry, Chennai, Kanchipuram, and Villupuram districts.

Thane making landfall across southern India on December 30, 2011. Image Credit: CIMSS

As you can see in the image above, Cyclone Thane never formed a distinct eye, which usually becomes more apparent when the storm becomes a Category 2 storm with winds between 96-110 mph, 83-95 kt, or 154-177 km/hr. Satellite imagery shows well defined spiral bands pushing on shore as the cyclone pushes to the west. Thane was downgraded into a tropical storm after it moved on shore. Thane is expected to move westward and weaken across northern Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Rayalseema, but should produce a lot of heavy rain across southern India resulting in possible flash flooding.

Bottom line: Cyclone Thane became a minimum Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph wind speeds over the southwest Bay of Bengal and made landfall between Puducherry and Cuddalore, India. Thane is responsible for killing 12 people in Cuddalore and seven people in Puducherry. The storm was downgraded as a tropical storm as it moved over land, and it will continue to weaken as it travels over southern India. Many houses and roads were damaged as trees were uprooted from tropical storm force winds. Rescue operations are now beginning across the area as eight teams of the National Disaster Management Force (NDRF) have been sent to the coast. Many schools across Chennai are being used as shelters for the storm victims.

December 30, 2011

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