Cyclone Amphan is about 18 hours away from landfall in West Bengal, on the India-Bangladeshi border. Although it is weakening rapidly from a peak of 120/ knots (222kph, a solid Category 4 on the Saffir/Simpson scale), now a low SS3 and likely at landfall a middle SS1 hurricane, it will still inflict significant damage on this vulnerable part of the world. The northern Bay of Bengal is the worst place on earth for hurricane storm surge. Even a weak storm can generate 3 meters (12ft) or more of inland inundation along this densely populated shoreline. Here is the current forecast damage swath:
In economic terms, this is not a big event, with “only” $388 Million in damage projected. But of course in poor areas economic impact estimates come nowhere near capturing the human misery. In this case, there are over a million people at risk from flooding, and a staggering 91 million within the region of tropical storm force winds. Depending on the availability of dramatic pictures, this may not make much news, but it will hurt a lot of people. Throw in the populations being displaced, it has the potential to re-ignite the spread of the SARS-COV-2 virus across both countries.