Intense tropical cyclone activities in the northern Indian Ocean

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Abstract

This research concerning the northern Indian Ocean demonstrates the variability of intense tropical cyclones (categories 3–5) both on an inter-annual and intra-seasonal scale. All the cyclones intensity have been re-analysed with the Dvorak technique using both National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and geostationary satellites with a 4-km infrared resolution. During the period from 1980 to 2009, 21 cyclones became intense. The decade from 1990 to 1999 was by far the most active with 11 intense cyclones while 5 intense cyclones formed in each of the other two decades. There has been no trend towards an increase in the number of categories 3–5 cyclones over the last 30 years. An early study, not based on re-analysed data, found a significant increase in the number of intense cyclones. Thirteen cyclones became intense when the Oceanic Nino Index was negative and matched with lower vertical wind shear. And, La Nina events have had a noticeable influence with eight intense cyclones. The monthly distribution is bimodal with seven and eight cyclones, respectively in the months of May and November. No intense cyclones were observed from July to September, being the peak of the monsoon season. Over these 3 months, the vertical wind shear is too strong to allow a significant intensification of storms. Despite particularly warm ocean waters, only 6% of categories 1–5 cyclones approached their maximum potential intensity. However, extreme intensities (05B at 155 knots in 1999) are comparable to other basins despite lower in terms of activity level. The proximity of land limits most cyclones from reaching a greater intensity. However, 16 of the 21 cyclones reached land with sustained winds of 100 knots and more. India and Bangladesh have been hit frequently by intense cyclones. Since 1990s, there is an increasing hit in Burma and Pakistan. Copyright © 2011 Royal Meteorological Society

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