1. What is Cyclone Amphan and how it got its name: All you need to know

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper I; Geography

According to the Chief Minister of West Bengal, the impact of the cyclone is worse than coronavirus. She said that three districts of South and North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore were worst affected.

Around 12 persons are killed due to the cyclone, it ravaged Kolkata and several parts of West Bengal. Thousands of homes are destroyed and also swamped low-lying areas of the state. Cyclone Amphan made landfall in coastal areas of West Bengal at around 2:30 pm on 20 May, 2020.

During the next 24 hours, heavy to very heavy rainfall will be at places over Western Assam and Meghalaya and heavy at other northeastern states, according to weather forecasting. On Thursday (21 May, 2020) heatwave is likely to occur over Gujarat and over West Madhya Pradesh and Vidharbha from 21 May to 24 May. IMD also predicted heatwave over Rajasthan, East Madhya Pradesh, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Telangana and Rayalaseema during 22 May- 24 May and over Uttar Pradesh during 23 May-24 May.

Such type of winds has never seen in the city of Kolkata according to S.N Pradhan. Several trees in the city have been uprooted.

Many of Kolkata’s people are without electricity and communications have been disrupted. In fact, in some of the worst-hit areas mobile phones are also not working. As per local news networks trees are uprooted, lamp posts and traffic lights, streets are waterlogged, vehicles are crushed under fallen trees. Already the country is struggling for COVID-19 and the storm is another challenge that the state is facing. Social distancing measures and mass evacuation have made the situation more difficult for authorities.

Cyclone Amphan is pronounced as UM-PUN had intensified and also classed as “Super Cyclonic storm”. How cyclone Amphan got its name? Let us find out!

Cyclone Amphan turned into a “super cyclonic storm” on Monday (18 May, 2020) evening and also hit the coast of West Bengal and Bangladesh by Wednesday (20 May, 2020).

Cyclone Amphan is the first over the Bay of Bengal in two decades and is turned into Super Cyclone with winds gusting at a speed of nearly 200 kmph. The government of Odisha has prepared to evacuate around 11 lakh to 12 lakh people. National Disaster Response Team (NDRF) has been deployed in Odisha and Bengal.

According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Amphan, it is very likely to weaken into an extremely severe cyclonic storm during next 06 hours as it nears West Bengal and Bangladesh.

“It lay centred at 0530 hrs IST of 19th May, 2020 near latitude 15.6°N and longitude 86.7°E over Westcentral Bay of Bengal about 520 km nearly south of Paradip (Odisha), 670 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 800 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).

What all areas are likely to be affected due to Cyclone Amphan?

Two states namely Bengal and Odisha have been alerted due to the storm. It is expected to make landfall in the eastern coastal states of West Bengal and Odisha on Wednesday (20 May, 2020). Further IMD stated that very heavy rainfall may also occur in Sikkim, Assam and Meghalaya till Wednesday apart from Odisha and Bengal. It is also said that the velocity of the wind will be so high that it may cause extensive damage to mud houses and partial damage to ‘pucca’ structure.

IMD also stated that as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm will cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) on Wednesday (20 May, 2020) with a maximum wind speed of 155-165 kmph gusting to 185 kmph.

Do you know the difference between Tropical Cyclone and Extra-tropical Cyclone?

The Northern Limit of Monsoon will also continue to pass through Car Nicobar. Due to northwesterly winds at lower levels and dry weather over various parts of northwest, central and Gujarat heat waves will likely to occur over Vidharbha during 18-22 May, during 19 to 22 May it will affect over East Rajasthan, Gujarat state and Madhya Pradesh and over West Rajasthan during 20-22 May, 2020.

How Cyclone Amphan got its name?

Six regional specialised metrological centres (RSMCs) and five regional Tropical Cyclone Warning Centres (TCWCs) in the whole world are mandated for issuing advisories and naming of tropical cyclones.

Meteorological Department of India is also one of the six RSMCs to provide advisories of tropical cyclone and storm surge to 13 member countries under the WMO/ESCAP Panel including Bangladesh, India, Iran, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

It is also mandated for RSMC, New Delhi to name the Tropical Cyclones that develop over the north Indian Ocean (NIO) including the Bay of Bengal (BoB) and the Arabian Sea (AS).

Why naming of Tropical Cyclones are done?

It will help the scientific community, disaster managers, media and general masses to identify each cyclone individually, it generates awareness about its development, it also helps in removing confusion regarding the simultaneous occurrence of Tropical Cyclone over a region, it makes to remember tropical cyclone easily, also rapidly and effectively warnings reach to a wider audience due to naming.

Now, let us see how Amphan cyclone got its name.

Tropical cyclones that are formed over different Ocean are named by the concerned RSMC & TCWCs. By following standard procedure, RSMC, New Delhi provide name to tropical cyclones for the north Indian Ocean including the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea.

The 27th Session of WMO/ESCAP Panel on Tropical Cyclones (PTC) held in 2000 in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman. In the discussion, they agreed in principles to assign names to the tropical cyclones in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. After long deliberations, the naming of the tropical cyclones over the north Indian Ocean commenced from September 2004. The list has the names proposed by the 8 member countries of WMO/ESCAP PTC including Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Myanmar, Oman, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Thailand. Let us tell you that almost all the names from the list have been utilised till date except the last name (Amphan). Therefore, from the previous list ‘Amphan’ name is utilised.

Source: Jagranjosh.com

2. How lockdown has impacted non-migrant poor in Delhi

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Economics

The plight of migrants leaving the cities has been visible on streets all over India. Now, a new study has looked what is happening to poor, non-migrant urban workers.

The study, a working paper by researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of British Columbia, covered 1,392 individuals in Delhi, in slums and unauthorised colonies, and found 9 out of 10 people reporting that their weekly incomes had fallen to zero.

The study, conducted over seven weeks of the lockdown, found that intra-city movement, mapped using Facebook mobility data, dropped by 80%, immediately after the first lockdown was announced on March 24. It arrived at three broad conclusions. First, the lockdown resulted in significant economic costs, with income falling by 57% and days worked falling 73%. Second, the lockdown resulted in “widespread compliance with public health directives: mask usage rose by 73 percentage points (pp); time spent indoors increased by 51 pp; smoking decreased by 13 pp; and hand-washing rose by 10 pp.” Third, the economic impacts of the lockdown were somewhat mitigated by government food assistance, but about 64% of the sample could not access these.

 “Even for non-migrant workers in Delhi, the lockdown has been devastating economically. But it also brought about a massive change in behaviour. People started wearing masks more, they stayed indoors and socialised less, they washed their hands more regularly, there were even fewer reports of smoking. These habits are crucial for limiting the spread and the health impacts of the virus,” said Dr Ken Lee, Executive Director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago in India (EPIC India) and the lead author of the study. But, the researchers added, “concerns remain about mental health, supply chains, and personal savings, against the backdrop of a rising infection rate. Moreover, it remains to be seen whether public health compliance will persist, as the novelty, fear, and media coverage of COVID-19 subside”.

Source: The Indian Express

3. In rising Covid cases and death counts, some encouraging trends

Relevant for GS Prelims & Mains Paper III; Science & Technology

Maharashtra, the state worst hit by Covid-19, accounts for about a third of all cases in India, and two out of every five deaths. Mumbai, in turn, accounts for three out of every five cases in Maharashtra, and also three of every five deaths.

Amid these high numbers, epidemiologists also point to some encouraging recent trends. While the number of cases is rising, the growth rate has slowed. The death rate among the infected too has been declining. And the recovery rate too has encouraged experts.

The trends

As of 5:30 pm on Wednesday, Maharashtra (table below) has had 37,136 cases with 1,325 deaths, out of India’s 1,06,750 cases and 3,303 deaths.

May (1-20)26638876


Mumbai (table below) had 22,746 cases and 800 deaths.

May (1-20)15685510


Until the first week of May, Mumbai was recording about 500 new cases each day. Last week this rose to a little under 1,000 a day. Now, this is over 1,200 new cases every day. On Tuesday alone, 1,411 fresh Covid-19 cases were recorded.

For both the state and the city, the case and death counts in April were 30 to 50 times the corresponding counts in March. The growth rates between April and the first 20 days of May, however, have been well behind the growth rates between March and April. For example, Mumbai’s monthly death toll rose 40 times from 7 in March to 283 in April, and from April by 1.8 times in the first 20 days of May (see table). Mumbai’s monthly new cases, which rose by 45 times from March to April, have since then risen by a factor of 2.2 until now. While the May counts are for only 20 days, this is still a very wide difference in growth rates of monthly counts.

The takeaways

Take the doubling rate, or time taken for cases to double. “Earlier cases were doubling in three days, then it slowed down to six-seven days, and now Maharashtra has doubling rate of 11.9. This means transmission of the virus is slowing. Mumbai has shown similar trends,” said Dr Pradeep Awate, epidemiologist. On Wednesday, Mumbai’s doubling rate was at 13, better than it has been in the past few days.

The death rate, or deaths as a percentage of the infected pool, has consistently reduced in Maharashtra and Mumbai. Mumbai’s death rate had climbed to over 7% in April. Following measures to ramp up intensive care and oxygen support, with emphasis on immediate symptomatic treatment, the death rate has dropped continuously and is currently at 3.5%.

By Tuesday, 9,639 patients had recovered in Maharashtra (25%), including 6,116 in Mumbai (26.8%). Tuesday recorded the highest number of recoveries, at 1,202 across Maharashtra.

The worries

Even so, the huge numbers are making it difficult to install facilities to treat everyone. Mumbai is adding 1,200-1,400 new cases every day. If we take only Tuesday’s example, for one bed that was vacated (due to death or recovery), two new patients were waiting to take it.

Health officials are worried about how the monsoon will affect the present circulation. “Influenza cases, which rise in monsoon, have affection for lungs. Coronavirus also has an affinity to attack lungs. We don’t know how these viruses will behave together,” said epidemiologist Awate. The other viruses he was referring to are those that cause dengue, malaria and leptospirosis.

Source: The Indian Express

Q. What are tropical cyclones? Why India’s east coast is more vulnerable than its west coast on account of tropical cyclones? (GS Paper I; Geography, 150 words, 10 marks)

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