A giant cyclone is about to plow into India. It’s the size and strength of a Category five hurricane.
Here’s a crazy image of how big this storm, named Phailin, really is. Not only is it huge, but it’s now officially the strongest storm ever measured in the Indian Ocean.
It’s about half the size of India itself:
The storm should hit the shores near Gopalpur, Orissa at 5:30 p.m. local time Saturday, according to the New York Times. It should keep growing until it makes landfall.
Winds could reach 160 miles per hour and there could be up to a meter of rain fall in some areas. meteorologists are saying that the Indian Authorities are underestimating the potential wind and surge that could accompany Phailin’s landfall.
The storm surge could be up to 20 feet. Currently waves are reaching 17 feet (that’s on top of the storm surge). Quartz’s Eric Holthaus writes:
In India and Bangladesh, where so many live only a few meters above sea level, the sheer size of Phailin nearly guarantees that hundreds of thousands of homes will be inundated. A storm surge of 1 to 3 meters could extend for hundreds of kilometers northeast of where the storm makes landfall. In short, Phailin is a humanitarian disaster in the making.
A similar cyclone killed over 10,000 people and left millions homeless in Orissa in 1999, so the authorities are taking all precautions and are already evacuating up to 450,000 residents. Puja holiday celebrations have been cancelled, according to Holthaus.
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