You are on page 1of 7

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF CLIMATOLOGY

Int. J. Climatol. 23: 1119–1125 (2003)
Published online in Wiley InterScience (www.interscience.wiley.com). DOI: 10.1002/joc.927

SHORT COMMUNICATION
FREQUENCY OF BAY OF BENGAL CYCLONIC STORMS AND
DEPRESSIONS CROSSING DIFFERENT COASTAL ZONES
Md. MAHBUB ALAM,a, *Md. ARIF HOSSAINb and SULTANA SHAFEEc
a Department of Physics, BIT Khulna, Khulna 9203, Bangladesh
b Department of Mathematics, BIT Khulna, Khulna 9203, Bangladesh
c Department of Physics, Dhaka University, Dhaka 1000, Bangladesh

Received 10 December 2002
Revised 30 March 2003
Accepted 9 April 2003

ABSTRACT
All the storms and depressions that formed in the Bay of Bengal during 1974–99 have been analysed. The number of
occurrences in July is not in harmony with that of other months of the monsoon. Regions stricken are taken into account
on a monthly, seasonal and annual basis. The Indian coast faces almost an equal number of storms and depressions that are
formed from June to November. The most vulnerable months for storms are May, October and November for Bangladesh;
May for Myanmar; June, August and September for Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam in India and October and November for
Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu in India. Most of the monsoon depressions cross the Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam coast of
India. The frequency of formation has been observed to decrease during the period of analysis. It is also observed that
the frequency distribution of the Bay of Bengal storms has two peaks: one in the month of May and the other in the
month of November. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society.

KEY WORDS: cyclonic disturbances; frequency distribution; storms; Bangladesh coast; Indian coast

1. INTRODUCTION

Only 7% of global tropical cyclones (Neumann, 1993) occur in the northern Indian Ocean and they are
the most deadly. The shallow waters of the Bay of Bengal, the low flat coastal terrain, and the funnel shape
(McBride, 1995) of the coastline lead to devastating losses of lives and property due to the surge from a storm
of even moderate intensity. The coastal boundary of the Bay of Bengal comprises Myanmar, Bangladesh,
the eastern coast of India and Sri Lanka. To verify the different features, if any, the eastern coast of India is
divided into two regions: Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam and Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu.
The seasonal distribution of tropical cyclone formation is related to the seasonal variations in the location
of the monsoon trough. Gray (1968) points out that the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) may occur
as a convergence line between easterly trade winds from the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, or as a
convergence zone in westerly monsoon flow.
A monsoon trough is a climatologically preferred region for tropical cyclone formation. Most of the Bay
of Bengal depressions form within the monsoon trough. Formations occur either as a reintensification of
westward-propagating disturbances or from in situ disturbances that develop within the trough. When the
monsoon trough is located closer to land in August, the disturbances still form over the warm waters of the
Bay of Bengal, but then they track away northwest onto the Indian subcontinent, still remaining as monsoon

* Correspondence to: Md. Mahbub Alam, Department of Physics, BIT Khulna, Khulna-9203, Bangladesh;
e-mail: malam60@hotmail.com

Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society

On average. M. 3. it is observed that the total number of storms and depressions that weakened in the Bay of Bengal without entering land was 28.69 in a year.12.1120 M. Subbaramayya and Rao (1984) have studied the interrelationship between the frequencies of Bay of Bengal cyclones in different months of the monsoon and the post-monsoon periods and observed that they are independent. He observed that storm formations for the pre-monsoon and monsoon periods are almost the same. to the storms and depressions with respect to the months and seasons. DATA The data concerning the occurrences of both storms and depressions and of storms alone for the period 1974–99 were collected from the ‘Special Weather Bulletins’ issued by the Storm Warning Centre (SWC) of the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD). We have also analysed the frequencies of both storms and depressions and of storms alone crossing the different coasts of the Bay of Bengal.46 storms formed in the Bay of Bengal during this period. M. 2.00 and occurs in November. So. In November. J. Climatol. in the monsoon season. 2. The southwest monsoon (June–September) contributes 43. Of all the storms that crossed the coasts. The annual average number of storms and depressions that crossed the coasts is 6. 3. Another reason for this low occurrence is that the vertical wind shear. On average. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int. 20. and the post-monsoon period (October–November) contributes 37. which is 86. 6. SHAFEE depressions.38 and occurs in the month of October.36%.14% of the total annual number of storms and depressions that formed. which removes the heating due to convection that is necessary to lower the surface pressure. In the present work. the percentage of occurrence of storms with respect to the other seasons is very low. In the post-monsoon period. remains high and inhibits intensification. 90 of which intensified into cyclonic stages. HOSSAIN AND S. Joseph (1995) studied the annual and the seasonal frequencies of depressions and cyclonic storms over the Indian seas and their directions of motion and pointed out a strong decreasing linear trend. Rao (1981) analysed the disturbances that formed in the Bay of Bengal during 1890–1969. Annual and seasonal frequency of storms and depressions The frequency of storms and depressions that formed in the Bay of Bengal and those that crossed the coasts during the 26 year period 1974–99 are presented in Table I. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) . RESULTS AND DISCUSSIONS 3. A. which is 90% of the annual number of storms that formed.99% crossed in the pre-monsoon season (March–May) and 54. The frequency of storms and depressions that crossed the different coasts and that weakened with their 5 year moving average is also discussed. ALAM. from which the following inferences can be drawn: 1. The annual average number of storms that crossed the coasts is 3. From Table I. it is seen that though 43 storms and depressions formed.68% of the annual total storms and depressions that crossed the coasts. we have analysed the frequency of storm formation and the number of storms that crossed the coast. Its position changes from approximately 20 ° N at the beginning of the season to 5 ° N by the end. the maximum frequency of storms and depressions crossing the coasts is 1. 5.77 storms and depressions and 3. which supported the general impression. on monthly and seasonal basis of cyclonic disturbances for the period 1974–99.1.32% crossed in the post-monsoon season. Easterlies to the north of the trough and westerlies to the south are ideal for tropical cyclone formation. but this does not agree with the general impression. The objective of this work is to identify the most vulnerable coasts. the monsoon trough migrates and is typically aligned east–west over the open water. A total of 202 storms and depressions formed during 1974–99 in the Bay of Bengal. that of storms is 1. 7. 4. if any.

56%.58. 3. Bangladesh. The average number of storms and depressions crossing the coast per year is 2. formed 1 2 1 3 23 22 10 26 21 39 43 11 202 2.89% of all the storms and depressions and 37. most of the storms crossed this coast during the post-monsoon period. Kolkata–Vishakha- patnam.2. (2) as percentage of (1) (%) 100 50 0 100 91 100 100 92 95 92 67 64 86 Storms 1. Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu: 29. Mar. actually weakened in the Bay of Bengal itself. Frequency of depressions and storms crossing different coastal zones The number of storms and depressions that crossed the coasts of Myanmar. the rest. 3. formed 0 2 0 3 14 4 0 4 5 18 32 8 90 2. The average number of storms and depressions crossing this coast per year is 2. No. Jul.00 and that for storms is 1. Climatol. It is seen from Table II that most of the storms crossed the Bangladesh coast during the pre-monsoon and the post-monsoon periods. Frequency of storms and depressions crossing coasts in the Bay of Bengal during 1974–99 Jan. No.68 37. BAY OF BENGAL CYCLONIC STORMS 1121 Table I. Dec. It is also to be noted that 50% of the total number of cyclonic disturbances that weakened inside the Bay of Bengal during the 26 year period occurred in the month of November alone. J. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int. 2.05 54.35. most of the storms crossed this coast during the monsoon period. The month of May has the highest monthly average (0. The annual average for the storms is only 0.56% of the annual total of Bay of Bengal storms and depressions crossing the coasts.71% crossed during the post-monsoon season. The average number of storms crossing in a year is 0. Apr. Total Storms and depression 1. and 17.33% of all the storms and depressions that crossed the Myanmar coast did so during this month.17 13. Myanmar: the average annual storms and depressions crossing the Myanmar coast is only 0. i.99 16. May Jun.28% of all the storms crossed this coast during the period considered. Sep. Oct.58 and that of the storms is 1. Storms 7 17 13 44 81 Percentage of total (%) 8.11% of the total storms crossed the Myanmar coast during the period.15.32 100 3. crossing coast 0 1 0 3 14 4 0 4 5 18 26 6 81 3.e. Of those that crossed this coast. which corresponds to only 8.00.62% of the total for the different coasts. No. and 11. 80% crossed during the post-monsoon season and 10% crossed during the winter season. i. amounting to 32. Feb.14% crossed during the southwest monsoon season and 35.04% of all the storms crossed Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu coast of India during 1974–99. Of the storms that crossed this coast. Aug. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) .79 43. No. and 53.64 20.31). Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu and Sri Lanka around the Bay of Bengal is presented in Table II. Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam: 36. The inferences drawn from a detailed analysis of the results in Table II are as follows: 1. (2) as percentage of (1) (%) 0 50 0 100 100 100 0 100 100 100 81 75 90 Seasonal frequency Winter Pre-monsoon Monsoon Post-monsoon Total (crossing the coast) 1. Bangladesh: the coastal belt of Bangladesh accounts for 23.46. 4. Storms and depressions 9 24 76 65 174 Percentage of total (%) 5. crossing coast 1 1 0 3 21 22 10 24 20 36 29 7 174 3. The average number of storms and depressions crossing the Bangladesh coast in a year is 1. 57.36 100 2.e.54. Nov. (2) as percentage of (1) (%) 78 71 17 68 47 only 29 crossed the different coasts.78% of all the storms and depressions crossed the Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam coast of India during 1974–99.

Seasonal vulnerability of different coastal zones Pie diagrams are drawn based on the storms (Figure 1(a)–(d)) and depressions (Figure 2(a)–(d)) that crossed the different coasts of the Bay of Bengal seasonally.3. Kolkata– 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 3 4 1 0 14 17. the Myanmar coast is the most vulnerable. Myanmar 1 1 0 1 8 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 15 8. For depressions.47 Total 0 1 0 3 14 4 0 4 5 18 26 6 81 100 Average 0 0.57 0. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) .81 0. from which the following observations can be made: Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int.77 1. In the post-monsoon season.54 0.23 0 3. For depressions.12 0.08.02 100 Storms 1.75 13.67 4.78 Vishakhapatnam Vishakhapatnam– 0 0 0 0 3 4 1 1 3 21 15 4 52 29.12 0. whereas in the case of depressions the fraction is about three-quarters.22 32. one of which crossed in the month of November and the other in December.15 0 0. Nov. Feb. Frequency of storms and depressions crossing the coasts of Bangladesh.94 0 4. the Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu and Myanmar coasts are equally vulnerable.07 12. Aug.64 5.56 3.23 3.10 7. Dec. HOSSAIN AND S. 3.69 16.04 0.4. and show that: 1. which is also vulnerable. Kolkata– 0 0 0 0 2 12 9 20 14 5 2 0 64 36. with an increase in the percentage for both the coasts. SHAFEE Table II. Mar. The 5 year moving average of storms and depressions of different coastal zones The frequency of occurrence of storms and depressions and 5 year moving averages for the different coastal boundaries are presented in Figure 3(a)–(f).55% of the storms and the Bangladesh coast facing 25% of the storms.89 Tamilnadu 4. Sri Lanka 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 1.27 6.11 2. The diagrams provide the information of the seasonal vulnerability of different coasts to storms and depressions as a percentage. Sri Lanka 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 2 2.12 Percentage of annual (%) 0 1.00 0. the Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu and Bangladesh coasts are vulnerable to storms. 3. Apr.28 4. different parts of India.10 3.85 0.15 0. with the Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu coast facing 54. May Jun. M.12 0.49 20. The Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu coast of India and the Bangladesh coast are vulnerable to storms in winter. Bangladesh 0 0 0 2 7 1 0 1 2 4 7 2 26 32.28 Vishakhapatnam Vishakhapatnam– 0 0 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 10 14 3 30 37.19 0. 4.1122 M.38 1. Bangladesh 0 0 0 2 8 6 0 3 3 9 8 2 41 23. but the Bangladesh coast is less vulnerable.79 11.17 22. 2.72 12. Total Percentage of total (%) Storms and depressions 1. Myanmar and Sri Lanka during 1974–99 Coastal belt Jan. Sep. However. A. The annual average is only 0.04 0 0.69 1.70 17. The Bangladesh coast is more vulnerable to storms than the Myanmar coast in the pre-monsoon period.62 2. Oct. the scenario remains the same.04 0 0.94 6. Climatol. Sri Lanka: during 1974–99 only two storms and depressions crossed the Sri Lanka coast.04 Tamilnadu 4.57 0 1. for depressions. Myanmar 0 1 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 9 11.38 0.15 Total 1 1 0 3 21 22 10 24 20 36 29 7 174 100 Average 0.41 100 5. Jul. 3. J.92 0. M. ALAM. Almost two-thirds of the storms that crossed in the monsoon period did so along the Kolkata– Vishakhapatnam coast.69 Percentage of annual (%) 0.

70% Bangladesh 28.00% Vis-Tam 0. Pie diagrams of the depressions that crossed the different coasts in different seasons during 1974–99: (a) winter.52% Figure 2.55% Cal-Vis Cal-Vis 61.00% 14. J. (c) monsoon. although the number of storms and depressions has decreased.29% Myanmar Cal-Vis 29.94% Cal-Vis 0. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) . (c) monsoon.29% 50. Pie diagrams of the storms that crossed the different coasts in different seasons during 1974–99: (a) winter.41% 5.86% 52. (b) pre-monsoon.29% Myanmar Cal-Vis Vis-Tam 50. 2.00% Bangladesh 12. (b) pre-monsoon.27% 6.00% 0.77% Bangladesh 25.36% Figure 1.69% Bangladesh 30.00% c) Myanmar Sri Lanka d) Sri Lanka Myanmar Vis-Tam 0.57% Vis-Tam Bangladesh 42.14% Cal-Vis Bangladesh Bangladesh 0.54% 11.00% 0. (d) post-monsoon 1.57% Vis-Tam 57.29% c) d) Sri Lanka Myanmar Sri Lanka Myanmar 0.88% Bangladesh 28.76% Vis-Tam 0.14% Cal-Vis 74.60% Cal-Vis 9.00% 14.00% 14.00% Myanmar 57.82% 7. The vulnerability of the Myanmar (Figure 3(a)) and Sri Lanka (Figure 3(e)) coasts to facing any storms and depressions decreased significantly.29% 14. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int.00% 4.70% 12. (d) post-monsoon a) Sri Lanka b) Sri Lanka 0.00% 0.00% 2. For the Bangladesh coast (Figure 3(b)) and weakened storms and depressions in the Bay of Bengal (Figure 3(f)).00% Vis-Tam 54. Climatol. the 5 year moving average has not changed much.00% 14.76% 0. BAY OF BENGAL CYCLONIC STORMS 1123 a) b) Vis-Tam Sri Lanka Sri Lanka Myanmar 11.

5 5 Yr. (f) weakened in the Bay of Bengal 3. For the Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam coast of India the numbers for the occurrences of storms and depressions and their 5 year moving average (Figure 3(c)) decreased sharply.5 2 1. Mov. Ave. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int.5 Occurrence Occurrence 3 2 2. Bangladesh is the most vulnerable zone for storms during the months of May and November.2 f) 3. The same situation prevails for the Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu coast (Figure 3(d)) of India.5 b) 4. (c) Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam. 3. 3.5 1 1 0.4 1 0. J.5 5 Yr. Ave. CONCLUSIONS 1.5 3 2 1.5 5 Occurrence 3 Occurrence 4 2. ALAM. Mov. 2.5 0 0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Year Year c) 7 d) 4. Mov. Ave. Mov. (b) Bangladesh.5 0 0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Year Year Figure 3. out of nine severe cyclonic storms only one crossed the Bangladesh coast during the period of study.5 2 1 Frequency 1 0. Frequencies and 5 year moving average of storms and depressions of different coastal zones: (a) Myanmar.5 0.1124 M. A.8 Occurrence 2 0. M. Ave. 4.5 3 4 Frequency Frequency 5 Yr.2 0. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) . (d) Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu. 0 0 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 1970 1975 1980 1985 1990 1995 2000 Year Year e) 1.5 Frequency 4 6 5 Yr. In the month of October. Mov. Mov.5 Frequency Frequency 1 3 5 Yr. Ave. Ave. M. HOSSAIN AND S.5 0.5 Occurrence 0. 5 Yr. 2.6 1.5 1. Climatol. SHAFEE a) 3. (e) Sri Lanka.

McBride JL. The number of storms and depressions decreases gradually during the period of our analysis. 1981. 1. 23: 1119–1125 (2003) . Assistant Director. The Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam coast of India is most vulnerable for storms during the monsoon season. In World Survey of Climatology. Meteorologist and System Manager. SWC. Global view of the origin of the tropical disturbances. Most of the depressions in the monsoon season crossed the Kolkata–Vishakhapatnam coast of India. BMD. The Vishakhapatnam–Tamilnadu coast of India is most vulnerable for storms during the post-monsoon season. Neumann CJ. World Meteorological Organisation: Geneva. 9. Rao SRM. and Mr Sujit Kumar Deb Sharma. Dhaka. 5.1–1. 693. BMD. In Global Guide to Tropical Cyclone Forecasting. BAY OF BENGAL CYCLONIC STORMS 1125 2. Myanmar is most vulnerable during May for both storms and depressions and for storms alone. 1995. 1968. Joseph PV. Subbaramayya I. We would also like to thank Mr Shah Alam. Climatol. Tropical cyclones of the Indian seas. Monthly Weather Review 96: 669–700. World Meteorological Organisation: Geneva. Elsevier: 257–280. Karmakar. J. 1984. Tropical cyclone formation. REFERENCES Gray WM. 7. Frequency of Bay of Bengal cyclones in the post–monsoon season. WMO/TD-No. 1993. with the primary maximum occurring in November and a secondary maximum in May. In Global Perspectives on Tropical Cyclones. Bangladesh. The seasonal frequency distribution for both cases is bimodal. Changes in the frequency and tracks of tropical cyclones in the Indian seas. for supplying the data and helping us in various ways. but as a whole its vulnerability has reduced. 1995. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS We are indebted to S. 6. In Workshop on ‘Global Change and Tropical Cyclones’. Copyright  2003 Royal Meteorological Society Int. 4. vol.56. Rao KN. Monthly Weather Review 112: 1640–1642. for giving many valuable suggestions. Global overview. Deputy Director. 3. except for July. 18–21 December.