July not the time for cyclones

(This article was originally published here)

The occurrence of cyclone Komen is unusual for this time of the year, when it is the middle of monsoon in the country, experts said.

“Cyclone at this time of year is completely unusual,” Dr Saleemul Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change and Development, told the Dhaka Tribune.

In Bangladesh, April-May and November-December are usually considered cyclone seasons.

According to Bangladesh Meteorological Department, all of the cyclones that hit the country in the past decade occurred during those periods.

Sidr and Aila, two severe cyclones in recent history, hit in November 2007 and May 2009 respectively.

But Komen formed a few days ago from a monsoon depression over the northern part of the Bay of Bengal.

Dr Saleem said this could be another consequence of changing climate, although cyclones cannot be connected with climate change directly.

According to the fifth assessment report of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Bangladesh is at specific risk from the impact of climate change due to its exposure to sea-level rise and extreme events like salinity intrusion, drought, erratic rainfall, unusual cyclonic event and tidal surge, which will hamper the country’s food as well as livelihood security.

Ruhul Amin, director of Cyclone Preparedness Programme under the Department of Disaster Management, said he had never seen a cyclone in July in his 20 years with the programme.

Terming the cyclone unusual, Ruhul also said it could be the result of the changing global climate.

Komen formed on early Wednesday night and was supposed to hit Bangladesh coast between Barisal and Chittagong around noon yesterday. But around 12:30pm, the met office said the cyclone had moved slightly towards Cox’s Bazar and stayed at the same place – about 65km from Chittagong port – for several hours, its strength weakening.

Later, in another bulletin issued at 6pm yesterday, the met office said the cyclone was about 50km southwest from Chittagong port, 105km from northwest of Cox’s Bazar, 200km east of Mongla port and 125km east-northeast of Payra port.

Although weaker, Komen hit offshore islands and destroyed dozens of homes in the St Martin’s Islands, Teknaf and Bhola.

Four people have died due to the storm so far, and at least 150 fishermen have lost their houses as of yesterday evening, said Ashrafuzzaman, duty officer at Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

The met office further said the cyclone was likely to move further north and may
cross Chittagong coast near Sandwip by midnight. 

Written by: Abu Bakar Siddique