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Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Ockhi[nb 1] was a strong tropical cyclone that devastated parts of Sri Lanka and India and was the most intense tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea since Cyclone Megh in 2015. The third and strongest named storm of the 2017 North Indian Ocean cyclone season, the origins of Ockhi can be traced back to an area of low pressure that formed in the eastern Andaman Sea on November 21, 2017. While traversing the southern part of the Bay of Bengal, meteorological conditions enabled the system to consolidate into a deep depression, causing damage to property and life in Sri Lanka on November 29. Due to high atmospheric moisture and warmer oceanic surface temperature between Sri Lanka and Kanyakumari (Cape Comorin) in mainland India, Ockhi intensified into a Cyclonic Storm on November 30.
|Very severe cyclonic storm (IMD scale)|
|Category 3 (Saffir–Simpson scale)|
|Formed||29th November, 2017|
|Dissipated||December 6, 2017|
3-minute sustained: 155 km/h (100 mph) |
1-minute sustained: 185 km/h (115 mph)
|Lowest pressure||976 hPa (mbar); 28.82 inHg|
|Fatalities||245 total, 661 missing|
|Damage||> $5.07 billion (2018 USD)|
|Areas affected||Sri Lanka, India, and Maldives|
|Part of the 2017 North Indian Ocean cyclone season|
While near Kanyakumari in mainland India, Cyclone Ockhi changed course and intensified while heading towards Lakshadweep in the Arabian Sea. Although the cyclone headed away from the coast of mainland India, it caused severe damage to life and property and claimed the lives of at least 218 people in the Southern parts of Tamilnadu and Kerala in India along the way. Ockhi impacted Lakshadweep on December 2, uprooting coconut trees and causing extensive damages to houses, power lines and other infrastructure in the islands. Ockhi dissipated near the south coast of Gujarat in India on December 6 before crossing the coastline under prevailing conditions. The storm travelled a distance of 2,538 km. In its entirety, Cyclone Ockhi left a trail of massive destruction in Sri Lanka, Lakshadweep, South India and The Maldives as it strengthened from a depression to a mature cyclone. Though it rapidly weakened in its final stages over the Arabian Sea, it caused heavy rainfall along the western coast of India, particularly in Maharashtra and Gujarat. Ockhi caused more than 245 fatalities, including 218 in India and 27 in Sri Lanka, and left at least 551 people missing, mainly fishermen.
During November 28, an area of low pressure developed about 425 km (265 mi) to the south-southeast of Colombo, Sri Lanka. The disturbance was located within an area of warm sea surface temperatures and moderate to strong vertical wind shear, with atmospheric convection scattered around the disturbance's ill-defined low-level circulation center. On November 29, the storm gathered into a depression just off the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka, and the India Meteorological Department (IMD) gave the system the identifier BOB 07. Due to the storm's rapidly consolidating low level circulation center, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center issued a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert, shortly before classifying it as Tropical Cyclone 03B on November 29. The IMD followed suit, upgrading the storm to a Deep Depression, and soon afterwards to Cyclonic Storm Ockhi. The storm tracked along Sri Lanka's southwestern and western coastline, towards the west-northwest, around the southern verge of a subtropical ridge located over India. Owing to highly favorable conditions, the storm displayed a thick convective ring, surrounding a well-defined eye feature on the same day. The storm tracked westwards and intensified further into a Severe Cyclone Storm, early on December 1. Soon afterwards, Ockhi intensified further into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.
As Ockhi moved further into the Arabian Sea, it travelled through an area of sea surface temperatures of 31 °C (89 °F) and decreasing wind shear; a 23 mi (37 km) eye became visible on satellite imagery, prompting the JTWC to upgrade it to a Category 3-equivalent cyclone early on December 2. On December 4, analysis showed that Ockhi was maintaining a source aloft, but there was restricted outflow on the western edge[further explanation needed], due to a deepening trough advancing rapidly from the west. Increasing vertical wind shear along with a deep layered subtropical ridge to the east steered it to north-northeast, and dry air intrusion from the west gradually weakened the system. On the following day, the power of the storm quickly lessened as it encountered increasingly unfavorable conditions, including high wind shear. As Ockhi became embedded within a deep mid-latitude trough, the storm rapidly underwent an extratropical transition. Dry and cold air from the subcontinent rapidly weakened the storm, and it was last noted as a well-marked low-pressure area over the Gulf of Cambay on December 6.
A low pressure area formed over southwest Bay of Bengal and adjoining areas of south Sri Lanka & equatorial Indian Ocean in the morning (0830 IST) of 28th November. It became a well marked low pressure area in the early morning (0530 IST) of 29th over the same region.
Under favourable environmental conditions, it concentrated into a Depression over southwest Bay of Bengal off southeast Sri Lanka coast in the forenoon (0830 IST) of 29th November. Moving westwards, it crossed the Sri Lankan coast after some time. Continuing it’s westward movement, it emerged into the Comorin area in the evening (1730 IST) of the 29th and intensified into a Deep Depression (DD) in the early hours (0230 IST) of the 30th. It further moved northwestwards and intensified into a Cyclonic Storm (CS) in the morning (0830 IST) of November 30th over the Comorin area. The Department of Meteorology in Sri Lanka issued a weather advisory for heavy rain, strong winds and rough seas on November 28th in the morning (1130 IST) for the concerned sea areas valid for the next 24 hours and the advisory was extended for the land area as well on the morning of the 29th of November (0500 IST). A series of advisories were issued during this period until the effect of the cyclone lessened over the island.
The Maldives Meteorological Centre predicted heavy rain and strong winds across the country's atolls, particularly those in the north and center of the island chain, over the day. It issued a Yellow Alert warning on November 30 for the area between Haa Alif Atoll and Kaafu Atoll between 10:30am and 03:30pm on December 1, later extending this to 08:00pm.
Close to 220 families were moved from the coastal areas of Kochi as a precaution, due to a storm surge at Chellambaram. Nearly 100 houses, mostly in Puthenthodu and Baazar, were vacated and schools were used as rehabilitation centres. 180 families in Chellanam, 17 in Kannamaly and 18 in Edavanakadu were moved to these centres, where food and medicine was available. The Government of Maharashtra announced a holiday on December 5 for schools in the MMR and in some other selective districts, for safety purposes.
|Sri Lanka||27||N/A||$346 million|||
|Tamil Nadu||108||400||$2 billion|||
The system produced heavy rainfall and gale-force winds in Sri Lanka, initially affecting the southern coastline, with Matara and the general Matara District in particular experiencing wind speeds of 70–80 km/h (40–50 mph) and bearing the brunt of the cyclone. Falling trees and damage to power transmission lines resulted in power outages in affected areas, with Matara, Galle and Ambalangoda among the worst-affected. Colombo and its suburbs, along with the southwestern and western coastal regions were also affected, with many parts of the capital city and its suburbs experiencing power outages and property damage; several roads were obstructed by falling trees and power lines, including that leading to the Supreme Court complex at Aluthkade. Due to the poor visibility caused by rain and attendant wind, BIA was prompted to divert two SriLankan Airlines flights to Mattala early on November 30. The Meteorological Department issued a Red Alert early on November 30, with schools in the Western, Central, Southern and Uva provinces given a holiday on the same day by order of the Ministry of Education, postponing exams meant to be held on the day.
On December 1, several government agencies issued a series of warnings, with the country's Disaster Management Center issuing a flood warning for areas along the Nilwala, Gin and Kalu rivers, while the Irrigation Department reported Millakanda (along the Kalu), Baddegama (on the Gin) and Panadugama (on the Nilwala) as areas particularly prone to floods, with Baddegama and Panadugama already experiencing minor localized flooding. The National Building Research Organisation issued a warning to the Kalutara District and its surroundings (with a focus on Palindanuwara, Bulathsinhala, Ingiriya and Agalawatta) in particular, predicting landslides and sinkhole formation. The Department of Meteorology issued heavy rain warnings for the Northern, North-Central, Uva, Southern, Western, Sabaragamuwa and Central provinces, and an additional one to fishing communities warning of rough seas and winds up to 70 km/h (40 mph). On December 2, police and firefighters were formally joined by the Sri Lanka Navy- followed by the army and air force- in search and rescue operations, with the aid of state agencies and the Sri Lanka Red Cross.
On December 2, 2017, the cyclone moved away from Sri Lanka towards the western coast of India.
Several seafaring vessels were capsized on November 30:
- a cargo boat off Cinamon Dhonveli island in Kaafu Atoll (3 rescued),
- a cargo boat off Taj Coral Reef in Kaafu Atoll 20195 (3 rescued),
- a speedboat off Maaungoodhoo island in Shaviyani Atoll (13 rescued).
In all, 14 separate incidents were reported in the Maldivian seas as a result of Ockhi's effects.
As of December 3, houses across 62 islands in the Maldives had been damaged by the fringe effects of Ockhi; 36 islands had experienced rain-induced floods while a further 4 had been inundated by storm tides. The Maldives National Defence Force was assigned to rescue and flood draining efforts predominantly on islands where the local citizenry could not manage on their own; the police too provided aid.
Cyclone Ockhi crossed the sea near Kanyakumari, the southern tip of mainland India, on November 30. Though it changed direction near Kanyakumari and headed towards the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea, it caused havoc and destruction in the southernmost districts of Tamilnadu and Kerala, particularly Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu and Thiruvananthapuram District of Kerala. Damage throughout Kerala was initially estimated at Rs 1843 crore. In Tamil Nadu damage was estimated more than Rs 1000 crores. As a Deep Depression, the system lashed the coast of Tamil Nadu and Kerala, damaging infrastructure and taking the lives of 34 more people. An estimated 52 in Kerala and 11 people in Tamil Nadu died in the cyclone with many others missing. On December 2, the cyclone hit the Lakshadweep islands.
The Southern Railway announced partial cancellation of train services between Nagercoil and Kanyakumari, Nagercoil and Thiruvananthapuram, and Nagercoil and Tirunelveli due to heavy rain caused by Cyclone Ockhi. Torrential overnight rains accompanied by squally winds lashed the district, uprooting 550 trees and 950 electric poles disrupting normal life. Many parts suffered power cuts even as educational institutions remained closed in the districts of Tirunelveli, Tuticorin, Viruthunagar and Thanjavur. The Indian Navy and Coast Guard searched for stranded fishermen in Coastal areas of Lakshadweep. More than 400 people were rescued and evacuated, and few cadavers were found. Coastal areas of Ernakulam District in Kerala were affected by the cyclone. Around 2,648 people were evacuated to seven shelters over Kochi. The cyclone claimed five lives in Kanyakumari District of Tamil Nadu on November 30, caused by falling trees. The cyclone went on to hit Lakshadweep islands on December 2. The three major islands of Lakshadweep—Minicoy, Kalpeni, and Kavaratti—suffered major damages. A desalination plant at Kavaratti was damaged. The cyclone Ockhi then moved away from Lakshadweep towards the western coast of India on December 4, bringing rare rainfall in December to Mumbai and other nearby areas. In Goa, beach shacks were hit by high tides caused by the cyclone Ockhi. Several important beaches in the state were affected due to the sudden ingress of water, which resulted in inundation of the shacks and soil erosion. Almost 50 shacks in Morjim, Mandrem, Arambol and Querim beaches in Pernem taluka were damaged. In Bardez taluka, only soil erosion at Anjuna and Baga beaches and damage to a retaining wall at Coco beach in Nerul was reported. Unseasonal rain and inclement weather in the wake of Cyclone Ockhi had severely impacted grape farms in Maharashtra. Nashik district received 125.5 mm of rain on due to the impact of Ockhi. Cyclone Ockhi dumped more than 80,000 kg or 80 tonnes of waste from the ocean on the Mumbai beaches, reveal estimates released by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) solid waste management (SWM) department.
In Gujarat, parts of southern region received significant rains with the highest rainfall in Umargam of 90 mm, causing damage to vegetables and banana crops. Strong winds of 25 km/h were also recorded. The cloudy and chilly weather also affected people and crops.
On December 3, the government allocated Rs 170 million from the national insurance trust fund for relief efforts targeting affected citizens, distributed among each divisional secretariat affected. Rs 10,000 was pledged as an initial allowance for each family affected to a significant degree by Ockhi. A parliamentary debate held on the same day saw the government pledge to upgrade the country's meteorological department with an automated network of rain gauges, and announce state compensation for damaged housing and businesses, as well as for domestic appliances damaged by the cyclone or resultant effects, and compensation for lives lost.
As of December 4, 2017, the cyclone had caused 27 confirmed deaths, with a further 77 injured; the Disaster Management Center reported 123,217 people of 35,354 families in 16 districts as having been affected, with 5,650 individuals of 1,424 displaced families having been provided shelter at 65 emergency welfare centers. 823 houses were reported completely destroyed, with a further 32,347 sustaining damage to varying degrees.
Kerala and Tamil Nadu sent special rescue teams on 2 December to track missing fishermen who were at sea during the onset of the Cyclone, due to protests in coastal areas over the unsatisfactory response from government agencies. Edappadi K. Palaniswami encouraged Rajnath Singh to involve the Navy and Coast Guard in search operations. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, claimed that 400 stranded fishermen were rescued. Close to 12 boats housing 138 fishermen in total arrived at Kalpeni, while four other boats arrived at Androth, Kithan and Chatlet, all of which were in Lakshadweep. Lakshadweep experienced massive coastal erosion, power disruption, extensive damage to property and shortage of water. People were provided with humanitarian assistance and disaster relief by the Indian Navy in Lakshadweep. The Navy transported relief material to Minicoy, Kavaratti and Kalpeni on Sunday. 4 tonnes of material, including rice, dal, salt and potatoes, water, blankets, raincoats, disposable clothes, mosquito nets and dhurries, were given to the local government. It was reported that dry provisions and ready to eat meals were also being transported to Bitra Island by helicopter from Dweeprakshak base in the island of Kavaratti. The government claimed the relief material would last for a week for 2000 people. Tamil Nadu government December 6 told as many as 4,501 houses in cyclone Ockhi-hit Kanyakumari have suffered partial and full damage and relief to the tune of ₹41 lakh had been provided. A government release quoted 1,687 houses had been damaged completely while 2,814 houses had suffered partial damage.
According to government officials, about 33,000 people from Kerala and another 2,800 from Tamil Nadu were affected by the cyclone as of 30 November 2017. The Centre Government reported that 39 people had died 167 were missing after the Cyclone hit parts of Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Authorities conducted rescue operations that attempted to locate the missing people in Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Lakshadweep. An estimated number of 74 fishermen from Tamil Nadu and 93 from Kerala were missing. The Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan, declared a compensation of ₹20 lakh to the families of those who died and ₹5 lakh to those who were permanently disabled due to the cyclone. He also announced that fishermen and their children will be paid ₹60 and ₹ 45 as an allowance for a week along with free food and rations for the residents of the coastal villages for a period of a month.
Chief Minister of Kerala complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he had a negligent attitude towards states ruled by the Left. The complaint was that in the matter of Ockhi and the natural calamity that followed, the Centre had a different attitude. The Centre inquired with Tamil Nadu Chief Minister about the situation but did not inquire about Kerala. Fishermen and their families protested and did not allow Vijayan's car to pass through during his visit of Vizhinjam, a fishing village near Thiruvananthapuram. The protesters claimed that the Government of Kerala was late in issuing warning to the fishermen on November 29, when the cyclone was in depression state near Sri Lanka. The Kerala Disaster Management Authority blamed the India Meteorological Department, claiming that they had only issued a fishing advisory, and not a warning. Sekhar Kuriakose, the member secretary of the Kerala Disaster Management Authority, claimed in a press statement on 1 December that it was not possible for MET department to issue a cyclone warning on November 29 as the cyclone was still a deep depression on November 30 till noon.
Orutharum Varela is the documentary which revolves around the impacts of the cyclone. The film panned the governments about the inadequate efforts towards the disaster management and politics around it.
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