Don't Look Now, But...


Sea surface temperatures in the North Indian tropical cyclone basin as of June 22, courtesy of Accuweather.

Is a repeat of Cyclone Gonu--now estimated to have caused $ 6 billion in damage to Oman and Iran (actually much less than worst case scenarios would have predicted)--possible in the coming week?

Over the past half week, a tropical cyclone known only as 03B developed in the Bay of Bengal and quickly moved ashore over the Indian subcontinent before it could intensify much. Still, meteorology blogger Margie Keiper writes that the associated precipitation contributed to the deaths of hundreds in India and Pakistan.

And now, the thick cloud cluster has moved back out over water, into the warm Arabian Sea, which fostered Gonu just under a month ago. Here's the latest satellite image from the Indian Meteorological Department:


Yesterday, Accuweather's Jim Andrews wrote of his concern that 03B has potential to become a major tropical cyclone in the Arabian Sea, and added, "based upon numerical forecasts, it is safe to say that this storm holds serious destructive potential, especially for southern Pakistan, but also for southeastern Iran."

I'm no expert and no forecaster, but this is one to watch, certainly....and even if it doesn't develop, it seems certain to rain a lot somewhere.


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Chris -

Thanks for pointing this out. There's an interesting corollary - a posited relationship between warm anomalies in the Indian Ocean and western Pacific and broad-scale synchronous drought. Marty Hoerling identified this in Science in 2003*, and it's probably worth exploring whether something like this is going on today.

* The Perfect Ocean for Drought, Science 31 January 2003: Vol. 299. no. 5607, pp. 691 - 694

There's plenty shear just to it's south. In order to reach major hurricane strength, it needs to head straight for the Gulf of Oman, where shear is low, and not deviate south at all. That seems likely, but not overwhelmingly so.
To my amateur eyes, the upper level conditions do not look as good for this cyclone as they did for Gonu. On the other hand, there is more deep warm water than there was when Gonu formed (the sea surface temperatures imply this, but it's not always necessarily so; in some areas, particularly the East Pacific, it is not unusual for the surface to warm while deeper waters cool or remain stable). It's the depth of the warm water (and the upper air conditions) that makes the difference between category 3 and category 5.