Cyclone Aila

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Severe Cyclonic Storm Aila
Severe cyclonic storm (IMD scale)
Category 1 (Saffir–Simpson scale)
SCS Aila at peak intensity.jpg
Severe Cyclonic Storm Aila at peak intensity
Formed 23 May 2009
Dissipated 26 May 2009
Highest winds 3-minute sustained: 110 km/h (70 mph)
1-minute sustained: 120 km/h (75 mph)
Lowest pressure 968 mbar (hPa); 28.59 inHg
Fatalities 330 total, ~8,208 missing
Damage $552.6 million (2009 USD)
Areas affected India, Bangladesh
Part of the 2009 North Indian Ocean cyclone season

Cyclone Aila (IMD designation: BOB 02, JTWC designation: 02B, also known as Severe Cyclonic Storm Aila) was the second tropical cyclone of the 2009 North Indian Ocean cyclone season. A relatively strong tropical cyclone, it caused extensive damage in India and Bangladesh.

As of 27 May 2009, 330 people have been killed by Aila, and at least 8,208 more are missing, while about 1 million people are homeless. Health officials in Bangladesh confirmed a deadly outbreak of diarrhea on 29 May, with more than 7,000 people being infected and four dying. In Bangladesh, an estimated 20 million people were at risk of post-disaster diseases due to Aila. Damage totaled $552.6 million (2009 USD).

Meteorological history[edit]

Map plotting the track and intensity of the storm according to the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale

Late on the 21st of May 2009, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center reported that a Tropical Disturbance had persisted about 950 kilometres (590 mi) to the south of Kolkata, in India and had developed within the Southwest Monsoon.[1][2] The disturbance at this time had a broad and poorly organized area of deep convection, which was located to the southeast of the low level circulation center which had consolidated into a single circulation during the previous 12 hours.[1] Environmental analysis indicated that the system was in an area of favorable conditions to develop with low vertical wind shear and warm sea surface temperaures.[1] During 22 May 2009, the disturbance developed further with a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert being issued early the next day by the JTWC as the low level circulation center had become stronger and more defined.[3] Later that morning RSMC New Delhi designated the disturbance as Depression BOB 02.[4]

During the day Depression BOB02 continued to slowly intensify until early the next day when it was upgraded to a Deep Depression by RSMC New Delhi, and designated as Tropical Cyclone 02B by the JTWC.[2][5] This came as satellite imagery had shown further organization of the depression.[2] Later that day, RSMC New Delhi reported that the deep depression had intensified into a Cyclonic storm and had been named as Aila whilst located about 350 kilometres (220 mi) to the southeast of Sagar Island.[6] Aila became a severe cyclonic storm at 06UTC on May 25 and made landfall at its peak intensity (60kt, 967hPa) between 08 and 09UTC.[7]


Officials in India evacuated thousands of residents from coastal areas ahead of Cyclone Aila.[8] In addition, several warning alerts were issued before the cyclone hit Kolkata; however, no alarm bells were rung.[9]

In the Bhola District of Bangladesh, an estimated 500,000 people evacuated to higher areas and shelters as Aila neared landfall. Tourists were advised to stay in their hotels due to the short amount of time to prepare for the storm.[10]



Aila Hitting Kolkata Residence
Aila downed thousands of trees, like this one.

In India, at least 149 people were killed,[11][12][13] two by electrocution, and hundreds others were left homeless as torrential rains led to flooding. High winds uprooted numerous trees, blocking roads throughout the region.[14][15] More than 15,000 people in eight villages were reportedly isolated from relief crews by severe flooding.[16] At least 18 of the 45 fatalities in West Bengal were in Kolkata, the region where Aila made landfall. All transit systems in the city of Kolkata were halted and daily life was at a standstill due to the storm.[17] The areas and districts affected by the cyclone in West Bengal include East Midnapore, Howrah, Hooghly, Burdwan, South 24 Parganas and Kolkata .[18] In the West Bengal state, more than 100,000 people were left homeless as a result of Aila.[13] At least 100 river embankments were breached by storm surge produced by the cyclone. Throughout the country, at least 150,000 people were left homeless.[19] In northern areas of the state, heavy rains triggered numerous landslides in Darjeeling that killed 22 people and left 6 others missing. At least 500 homes were also damaged in the area.[20] At least 50,000 hectares of agricultural land was lost during the storm, costing an estimated Rs. 125 crore (US$26.3 million). Throughout the state, an estimated 40,000 homes were destroyed and 132,000 others were damaged. At least 350,000 people affected by Aila.[21][22] Later reports indicated that upwards of 2.3 million were displaced by the storm as 175,000 homes were destroyed and 270,000 were damaged.[23]

The outer bands of the storm also produced torrential rains and high winds in eastern portions of Orissa state, with the heaviest rainfall being recorded at Paradip at 260 mm (10 in) and winds peaked at 90 km/h (56 mph). Numerous trees were uprooted and power lines were downed, causing widespread power outages. High waves produced by the storm inundated coastal villages, forcing residents to evacuate to safer areas. Roads were also blocked by floodwaters or debris, hampering relief efforts.[24] An estimated 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of Orissa cropland were lost due to Aila.[25]

The remnants of Aila produced gusty winds and heavy rains in the eastern Indian state of Meghalaya between 25 and 26 of May. Rainfall amounts peaked at 213.4 mm (8.40 in) and winds reached 60 km/h (37 mph). Several homes were damaged in the area and power was cut due to fallen trees and power lines. No injuries were reported in the state.[26] Several streets were flooded and some homes were reported to have standing water.[27]


Wettest tropical cyclones and their remnants in Bangladesh
Highest known totals
Precipitation Storm Location Ref
Rank mm in
1 1,051.2 41.39 Komen 2015 Chittagong [28]
2 ~300 ~12.00 Rashmi 2008 [29]
3 280 11.02 Monsoon Depression — Sep. 2004 Barisal [30]
4 253 10.00 Viyaru 2013 Patuakhali [31]
5 227.2 8.94 Trop. Depression — Oct. 2004 Rangpur [32]
6 220.0 8.66 Bhola 1970 Maya Bandar [33]
7 200 7.87 Sidr 2007 [34]
8 130 5.11 Aila 2009 Chittagong [35]
9 129 5.07 Bijli 2009 [36]
10 53 2.13 Akash 2007 [37]

Torrential rains from Aila resulted in at least 179 fatalities from flooding.[15][38] More than 400,000 people were reportedly isolated by severe flooding in coastal regions of Bangladesh. Numerous villages were either completely submerged in floodwaters or destroyed.[10] Dozens of people are reportedly missing throughout the country.[39] A storm surge of 3 m (10 ft) impacted western regions of Bangladesh, submerging numerous villages. Several rivers broke through embankments, causing widespread inland flooding. In one region alone, more than 50,000 people were left homeless. Despite warnings to remain at port, numerous fishing vessels sailed into the storm. Port officials stated that more than 500 fishermen had gone missing since the storm made landfall.[40] In Patuakhali, a dam broke and submerged five villages. Numerous homes were destroyed by the subsequent flooding and tens of thousands of people were left stranded in the villages. In Chandpur, two pontoons sank while docked in port.[41] At least 800 people were injured by the storm and 2.6 million were affected. Unofficial reports indicate that the death toll in the country has reached 121; however, the Bangladeshi government denied this claim. An estimated 58,950 animals were killed by the storm with up to 50,000 deer missing. On the island of Nizum Dwip, nearly all structures were severely damaged or destroyed, leaving roughly 20,000 people homeless.[42] Throughout the country, Aila left an estimated 500,000 people homeless.[43] Later press reports stated that more than 6,600 people were injured by the storm and 3.3 million were affected.[44] Later reports indicated that only 10 people were missing due to the storm, with the publisher of an earlier source stating that the statement of over 1,000 people missing was a typing mistake. Damages to water embankments throughout the country was estimated at Tk. 1 billion (US$14.4 million).[45]

Environmental impact[edit]

The Sunderbans,a region which houses 265 of the endangered Bengal Tigers, was inundated with 6.1 m (20 ft) of water. Dozens of the tigers are feared to have drowned in Aila's storm surge along with deer and crocodiles. As of 27 May 2009, one tiger has been found alive; it was found in a waterlogged cowshed following the cyclone's landfall. Additionally the forest remains under an estimated 2.4 m (7.9 ft) of water.[46] On 27 May, conservationists have begun a search for the tigers throughout the forest. The search teams were supplied with fresh drinking water for the tigers as their natural water source was inundated with salt water from Aila's storm surge.[47]



State Government in co-operation with the central counterparts took up the rescue and the rehabilitation program. Army was deployed to the affected areas. The next day, the army used helicopters to provide food to the affected population. About 2,500 troops were deployed to West Bengal on 26 May 2009.[48] Several naval relief teams were deployed to the Sunderbans region where an estimated 400,000 people were marooned by flooding.[49] Roughly 100 relief camps were established in West Bengal shortly after the storm passed.[50] On 27 May, 400 troops form the National Disaster Response Force were deployed to the state for relief operations.[51] The Government of India released Indian rupee 10,000,000 (US $209,775) in relief funds to the affected areas on 26 May. Two MI-17 helicopters were also sent to air-drop food supplies to the worst affected areas in West Bengal.[52]


Immediately following the storm, a 33-member team of the Bangladesh Navy was deployed to the affected regions. The Red Cross also quickly responded, supplying water purifying tablets and other relief items. The Deputy Commissioner of Satkhira district allocated ten tonnes of rice and Tk.100,000 (US$1,450) in immediate relief funds for that district.[40] The government later allocated Tk. 1.2 million (US$17,143) and 1,000 tonnes of rice for the affected areas.[53] These amounts further increased to Tk. 12.3 million (US$175,714) and 2,500 tonnes of rice.[54]

Five days following the impacts of Aila, the Bangladeshi Health Organization confirmed that a widespread outbreak of diarrhea which has infected over 7,000 people. Another outbreak of water borne diseases, namely dysentery, has infected over 3,000 people. At least two people have been confirmed to have died from diarrhea and two other fatalities were reported.[55] Officials feared that the outbreak would lead to many fatalities in isolated areas that have not received aid and have been without food and clean water for nearly a week.[56]

See also[edit]


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  2. ^ a b c "JTWC Advisory 24-05-2009 00z". Joint Typhoon Warning Center. 2009-05-24. Retrieved 2009-05-25. 
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External links[edit]