While India is battling the deadly coronavirus pandemic, a powerful cyclone has emerged in the Arabian Sea that made landfall on India’s western coast on Monday. Cyclone Tauktae, the most powerful storm to hit the region in more than two decades, came ashore in Gujarat state with heavy rain, pummelling storms and fast-moving winds.

Although after the cyclone caused landfall in Gujarat around 8.30 pm on Monday, the ‘Extremely Severe Cyclone Tauktae’ weakened into a ‘Very Severe’ category. However according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), despite completing over 12 hours since the storm hit land, Tauktae continues to maintain the wind speed of about 110-120 km/hr gusting to 130 km/hr.

Predicted path of Cyclone Tauktae ( Source: India Meteorological Department)

Cyclone Tauktae has not only left a trail of destruction in the state of Gujrat but has also brushed past the coastal states of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Maharashtra. So far, the cyclone has killed at least 12 people and is continuing to wreak havoc in the western coastal states of the country.

How Cyclone Tauktae got its name?

Tauktae (pronounced Tau’Te), which is currently brewing in the Arabian Sea, is named by Myanmar and means ‘gecko’, a highly vocal lizard, in Burmese dialect.

Tropical cyclones are named to help the scientific community and disaster managers to identify cyclones, create awareness, and effectively disseminate warnings to wider audiences. The naming of cyclones in the Indian Ocean began in 2000 and the formula was agreed in 2004. A panel of 13 countries, including India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Pakistan, the Maldives, Oman, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen, name cyclones in the region.

Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) released a list of cyclone names in April 2020 as suggested by the 13 countries. This cyclone that devastated the coasts of Gujarat and affected parts of Maharashtra has been named by Myanmar, while the next cyclone in the region will be called ‘Yaas’, a name given by Oman, and the one after that will be called ‘Gulab’ which is recommended by Pakistan.

Indian Navy undertaking rescue missions in Arabian Sea:

In these extremely challenging sea conditions, Indian Navy ships are being deployed in order to lead rescue missions. The Indian Navy deployed three frontline warships in the high sea for Search and Rescue (SAR) assistance of two ships: Barge P305 and Barge GAL Constructor, with 410 people on board.

About 146 people out of 273 were rescued by the Indian Navy from Barge P305 that went adrift in the Arabian Sea hours before the cyclone made landfall in Gujarat. INS Kochi and INS Talwar were swiftly sailed with despatch for SAR assistance. Apart from this, a third warship, INS Kolkata was sailed with despatch to render assistance to another Barge ‘GAL Constructor’ with 137 people on board.

Several other ships and aircrafts of the Indian Navy have also been readied for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations in the wake of Cyclone Tauktae.