Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bijli Threatens Myanmar, Bangladesh
Tropical Cyclone Bijli continues to slowly intensify over the northern Bay of Bengal.
Located approximately 150 miles south-southeast of Kolkata, India, Bijli will continue to move in an east-northeasterly motion through Saturday. On this track, Bijli will continue to encounter a favorable environment for further strengthening prior to making landfall late Saturday or Saturday night near the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh. Winds could become sustained at or above hurricane strength (75 mph) at the time of landfall.
Outer rain bands are currently impacting northeastern India, southern Bangladesh and western parts of Myanmar. Conditions will continue to deteriorate across southern Bangladesh and Myanmar as Bijli approaches.
The government of Myanmar has issued a Cyclone Warning for the western coastal region of the country.
Rainfall totals are expected to exceed 10 inches in many locations near the path of Bijli. Wind gusts upward of 90 mph are possible as well, with the strongest winds near the landfall point. Along the immediate coast of western Myanmar, a dangerous storm surge of 6-8 feet is expected prior to and during landfall. There can also be an isolated tornado or two from Bijli.
Myanmar was struck by powerful Cyclone Nargis on May 2, 2008, resulting in the worst natural disaster in Myanmar's recorded history. Nargis struck the Irrawaddy Delta, an area farther south than where Bijli is expected to make landfall.
Bijli is not expected to be as strong as Nargis, and some of the terrain is more hilly in the forecast strike area. However, there is potential for devastating flooding this weekend, lasting into early next week. The storm also has potential to displace thousands of residents, and there is a significant risk for loss of life in western Myanmar and southeastern Bangladesh.

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