India – Tropical Cyclone Tauktae Leaves 23 Dead and Over 200,000 Displaced

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae left a trail of destruction as it moved north over the Arabian Sea, passing close to the western coast of India. Tauktae made landfall in Gujarat on 17 May and is forecast to weaken.

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae, India, 17 May 2021. Image: NASA Earth Observatory image by Lauren Dauphin, using VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE, GIBS/Worldview, and the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership.

According to India’s Disaster Management Division, as of 17 May, as many as 23 people had died in the storm, mostly as a result of wind damage but also flooding and rough seas. Fatalities were reported in the states of Kerala (8 fatalities), Goa (3), Karnataka (8) and Maharashtra (6). As many as 127 people were thought to be missing after severe sea conditions and high waves caused a vessel to sink off the coast of Mumbai.

Disaster Management Division reported a total of 197 house have ben completely destroyed and almost 7,000 homes damaged including 3,534 in Maharashtra and 2,427 in Kerala, but also in the states / territories of Lakshadweep, Goa, Karnataka and Gujarat. As many as 217,458 people have evacuated their homes, mostly in Gujarat, where 203,509 were displaced.

As of 18 May there was hope that the worst was over and Tauktae was forecast to weaken. India Meteorological Department (IMD) however still warned of wind gusts of up to 135 km/h off the Gujarat coast and possible storm surge of up to 3 metres. Storm surge has already caused dramatic flooding in coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka in particular.

Tauktae also brought heavy rainfall which caused rivers and reservoirs to rise. India’s Central Water Commission reported the Manimala river at Kallooppara in Pathanamthitta district, Kerala was above the danger mark (6 metres), standing at 6.16 metres as of 17 May. Meanwhile the Kabini Reservoir in Mysore District of Karnataka stood at 689.3 metres where Full Reservoir Level (FRL) is 696.16 metres.

Heavy rainfall has also affected areas in Maharashtra and Mumbai over the last 24 hours. The Santacruz weather station in Mumbai recorded 230 mm in 24 hours to 18 May, reportedly the highest 24 hour rainfall total in Mumbai in May. As much as 298 mm of rain fell in Palghar during the same period.