Source: IMD web site

INSAT-3D Image 8 Dec 2013 0230 UTC (Source: IMD web site)

After Phailin, Helen, and Lehar, it is now Madi, the fourth successive cyclone to form in the Bay of Bengal in eight weeks. Cyclone Phailin had a straight line path and the landfall point could be predicted well in advance. There was enough time for a massive evacuation drive to be executed and for TV camera teams to place themselves at Gopalpur to give a live account of the arrival of the storm.

Helen was a much weaker storm and it had a shorter track as well. Lehar was another severe cyclonic storm. But it was different from Phailin. It looked as if Lehar was hesitant to strike the coast. Eventually it adopted a self-destructive path, went into cooler seas, and ended in a whimper far away from land. Lehar was like a left-over Diwali phataka (loud cracker) that failed to burst.

As I write this post on 8 December 2013, Madi is a cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal, and it is currently threatening no one in particular. As a BBC World News weathercaster put it, Madi is aimlessly wandering. Weather prediction models are not able to predict for sure where Madi is heading or what is going to happen to it. It is even said to be in quasi-stationary motion for whatever that means.

I have always felt that every cyclone has a mind of its own. So for meteorologists, cyclone prediction still largely remains a guessing game. As for the modelers, every new cyclone only brings an old message that they yet have a long way to go…