Cyclone Mocha weakens rapidly over Myanmar

Update: Some good news! After Cyclone Mocha tore into northern Myanmar and Bangladesh, it rapidly weakened once on land. The wind speeds went from around 170 mph (275 kph) to 28 mph (45 kph) in approximately 24 hours.

Mocha has made landfall in Myanmar, near Bangladesh

The India Meteorological Department said on Sunday (May 14, 2023) that Cyclone Mocha has made landfall in western Myanmar, near Bangladesh. It was midafternoon Sunday local time in that region. The storm is bringing winds and heavy rains to this populous, vulnerable and war-torn part of the world, where there are many refugees, and where landslides and floods are now expected. The BBC had reported Saturday that about half a million people were being evacuated to safer areas in southeastern Bangladesh, ahead of the cyclone, which could be the most powerful storm seen in Bangladesh in nearly two decades. The BBC said:

There are concerns the cyclone could hit the world’s largest refugee camp, Cox’s Bazar, where close to a million people live in makeshift homes …

See photos from on May 15: Cyclone Mocha batters Myanmar, Bangladesh

From The Guardian weather tracker on May 15: Cyclone Mocha batters Bangladesh and Myanmar

A region of turmoil

According to the BBC, Myanmar has been in turmoil since 2017, when the government began killing and brutalizing the local Rohingya population, forcing them to flee to Bangladesh where many still live in refugee camps.

The tropical cyclone, also called a typhoon, has brought heavy rains to the area. And the low-lying nature of the landscape is expected to exacerbate the flooding issue. The average elevation of Bangladesh is 9 meters (30 feet) above sea level, and the country has a population of about 170 million people. Myanmar’s population is about 54 million. It has mountainous regions, and heavy rainfall could result in landslides.

As the Weather Channel explained:

The Bay of Bengal hosts only 4% of the total tropical cyclones globally, but more than 80% of the fatalities to cyclones are from this region.

Map showing white, red, green and blue  colors over the south of Asia.
The India Meteorological Department posted this map on May 14, 2023, as Mocha was making landfall and wrote: “The extremely severe cyclonic storm “Mocha” (pronounced as “Mokha”) over the northeast of Bay of Bengal moved north-northeastward with a speed of 25 kmph during past 3 hours, and crossed north Myanmar-southeast Bangladesh coasts between Kyaukpyu (Myanmar) and Cox’s Bazar (Bangladesh).”
Globe of Asia and Oceania in gray color with Myanmar in green.
Low-lying areas of Myanmar were affected by Cyclone Mocha on May 14, 2023. Image via Wikipedia.

Videos of Mocha making landfall

Cyclone Mocha on Twitter

Satellite image of 2 oppositely spinning cyclones, to the west and southwest of India.
This image shows the development of the storm Mocha – in the Bay of Bengal – from May 10 to 11. The storm headed for landfall in Myanmar and Bangladesh on Sunday, May 14. The pink swirl to the east of India is the tropical depression becoming Cyclone Mocha. Note the zero line of latitude; that’s Earth’s equator. And note the storm below Mocha – south of the equator – spinning in the opposite direction from Mocha. This effect is due to Earth’s rotation, and is called the Coriolis effect. This satellite view is Morphed Integrated Microwave Imagery from the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bottom line: Powerful cyclone Mocha made landfall on Sunday, May 14, 2023, in Myanmar, near the border of Bangladesh, in a populous, low-lying and war-torn region.

Read more: Tropical Cyclone Freddy sets world record for longevity

Read more: Twin cyclones mirror each other in Indian Ocean

May 15, 2023

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Kelly Kizer Whitt

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