Cyclone Biparjoy: What is a cyclone

gunau village of kutch district
A view of Mandavi light house at the Arabian sea ahead of the expected landfall of Cyclone Biparjoy at Gunau village of Kutch District, India on June 14Image Credit : Getty

Originally projected to head towards the coastline of Pakistan, cyclone Biparjoy, developed in the Arabian Sea, has altered its course and is now on a path towards the northern coast of Gujarat. It is anticipated to make landfall on June 15.

According to the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre (RSMC) in India, the cyclone has the potential to cause storm surges measuring 2-3 meters in height. It poses risks such as the destruction of thatched houses, damage to solid structures, roads, and crops, widespread flooding, and disruptions to railways, power lines, and signaling systems in the coastal districts of Gujarat.

Cyclone Biparjoy, classified as a tropical cyclone, is expected to generate wind speeds ranging from 125 to 135 km/h, with gusts reaching up to 150 km/h upon reaching the land. The National Disaster Management Authority categorizes cyclones into two main types: extratropical cyclones and tropical cyclones. Here’s a comprehensive overview of these cyclones.

What is a cyclone and its types:

A cyclone is a large-scale weather system characterized by low atmospheric pressure at its center, around which winds rotate counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere. Cyclones are powerful and often destructive storms that can bring about strong winds, heavy rainfall, and storm surges.

There are two main types of cyclones: extratropical cyclones and tropical cyclones.

Extratropical Cyclones:

Extratropical cyclones, also known as mid-latitude or temperate cyclones, typically occur in the middle latitudes, away from the equator. They form along the boundaries between warm and cold air masses. These cyclones are often associated with fronts, which are the transition zones between different air masses. Extratropical cyclones can bring about diverse weather conditions, including rain, snow, strong winds, and temperature changes. They can affect large areas and are common in regions like North America, Europe, and Asia.

Tropical Cyclones:

Tropical cyclones are intense storms that develop in tropical and subtropical regions over warm ocean waters. They derive their energy from the heat and moisture of the ocean. Tropical cyclones are characterized by a well-defined circulation center, called the eye, surrounded by bands of strong winds and thunderstorms. They are known by different names in various parts of the world, such as hurricanes (Atlantic Ocean and Northeast Pacific), typhoons (Northwest Pacific), and cyclones (Indian Ocean and South Pacific).

Tropical cyclones can cause widespread devastation due to their powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, and potential for flooding. They are closely monitored by meteorological agencies to issue warnings and aid in disaster preparedness and response.

Both types of cyclones can pose significant risks to human lives, infrastructure, and the environment. Understanding their characteristics and behavior is crucial for effective disaster management and mitigating their impact on vulnerable regions.