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  • 13 Aug 2019 GS Paper 1 Geography

     What do you understand by tropical cyclones and how are they formed? Also examine the impact of these cyclones on India. (250 words)



    • Define tropical cyclone in the introduction.
    • Explain the conditions of formation of tropical cyclones.
    • Mention the impact of cyclone on India.
    • Conclude by giving the importance of mitigation and adaptation techniques.


    Tropical cyclone is an intense circular storm that originates over warm tropical oceans and is characterized by low atmospheric pressure, high winds, and heavy rain. They are known by different names:

    • Cyclones in the Indian Ocean
    • Hurricanes in the Atlantic
    • Typhoons in the Western Pacific and the South China Sea
    • Willy-willies in Western Australia


    The conditions which favour the formation and intensification of tropical cyclone storms are:

    • Large sea surface with a temperature higher than 27° C
    • Presence of the Coriolis force, .i.e. distance from the equator
    • Small differences in the vertical wind speed
    • A pre-existing weak- low-pressure area or low-level-cyclonic circulation
    • Upper divergence above the sea level system

    They move from east to west in anti-clockwise direction in the Northern Hemisphere and clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.

    Cyclones in India

    The geographic location of India makes it even more vulnerable to Tropical Cyclones. India’s eastern coast specially is at high risk zone from the impacts of cyclone.

    • Presence of higher temperature at Bay of Bengal and constant inflow of fresh water from rivers and rainfall creates ideal conditions for cyclone formation.
    • Remnants of typhoons over Northwest Pacific move across the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean.

    It has devastating consequences for life on coasts and the natural environment as can be seen during recent cyclones like Cyclone Fani (2019), Titli (2018), Phailin (2013).

    Below are the major impacts of Tropical Cyclones on India:

    • Cyclone causes huge loss of lives and damage to property in the coastal areas.
    • Economic losses: Loss of livelihood for the fishermen and negative impact on the tourism industry.
    • Damage to marine birds and animals. Chilika lake, India’s largest coastal lagoon and home to a large number of migratory birds is also at high risk zone.
    • Impacts entire social well being of people along the coastal region. Schools, hospitals remain shut, damage to coconut plantations which takes years to grow again throws the lives of farmers off-gear every time a cyclone hits.


    India has been engaged in constantly upgrading its disaster mitigation and adaptation techniques.

    • The Odisha government, with support from the World Bank National Cyclone Risk Mitigation project, increased disaster preparations including building shelters, evacuation planning, conducting drills and strengthening embankments.
    • Mission zero causality has significantly reduced the loss of lives during cyclones.
    • Still India has huge potential to upgrade its technology for better forecasting, tracking and warning systems.

    New guidelines under Coastal Zone Management Rules 2018 allowed extension of infrastructural works towards the sea coasts. This poses huge risks for threats like cyclones and thus requires reassessment.

    Hence, there is a need to give priority to ecological sustainability and disaster mitigation instead of infrastructural development. Sustainable development should be the way forward.

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