Over four years ago, on November 28, when meteorologists detected a low-pressure system forming over the southwest Bay of Bengal, they initiated their four-stage action plan and released an advisory. But even before the weather department could issue a cyclone watch warning, the system quickly intensified from a ‘deep depression’ into a cyclonic storm and unleashed its fury on the coastal districts of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and the Lakshadweep Islands.
Clearly, Cyclone Ockhi was an unusual phenomenon. Unlike any other cyclone before, it did not just rapidly intensify but also left the scientists bewildered with its long gestation period. It developed in the sea for 6.7 days, much longer than the average life of 4.7 days observed for ‘very severe cyclonic storms’ that had occurred over the north Indian Ocean (the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea) until 2017. And, both these peculiarities put the scientists on alert of what was likely in the near future.
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