A low-pressure area over the South Andaman Sea is set to turn into a cyclone - to be named Asani - by Sunday and may move north towards India's eastern coast, the India Meteorological Department has said. IMD officials said the low-pressure area would likely intensify into a depression by Saturday evening and into a cyclonic storm over the Bay of Bengal 24 hours later. It is then expected to continue north-northwest and near coastal Andhra Pradesh and Odisha by May 10. Asani is likely to make landfall between Visakhapatnam and Bhubaneshwar between 10 and 11 May.
Where is Asani now?
On Friday the low-pressure area was over 1,000 km from the Indian coastline. The weather department is due to provide further updates on its current position later today.
What is its predicted path?
Projections show the weather system moving at an increasing rate of knots over the next four days. Expected speed is 25 knots tomorrow and a maximum of 45 knots on 10 May, when it is expected to have transformed into a cyclone.
Is date and location of landfall confirmed?
No. Experts have stressed that it is still too early predict the weather system's precise progression. "There is a lot of divergence between what different models are showing. The model forecasts are also changing frequently… so we can't say immediately if this cyclone will make landfall…" Ananda Kumar Das, in-charge of the IMD's cyclone monitoring department, said.
"We will have more clarity on Sunday," he added.
Weather officials have also pointed out the storm may make a U-turn and head back out to sea or make a sharp turn and head towards Bangladesh.
What weather warnings have been issued?
7 May: Heavy to very heavy rainfall very likely over parts of the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
Wind speeds between 45 and 55 km per hour with gusts up to 65 km per hour very likely over Andaman and Nicobar, the Andaman Sea and adjoining areas of southeast and east-central Bay of Bengal. Sea conditions will be rough to very rough in these areas.
Authorities in the Andaman and Nicobar have been advised to suspend all fishing and tourist activities, as well as regulate all off-shore activities and move people out of vulnerable areas.
8-9 May: Winds between 55 and 75 km per hour with gusts up to 85 km per hour likely over southeast and east-central Bay of Bengal, as well as central parts. Sea conditions will remain rough.
Fishermen have been advised to return to coast and specifically to not venture into the Andaman Sea, southeast Bay of Bengal, east-central Bay of Bengal and parts of central Bay of Bengal.
10 May: Gale-force winds between 70 and 80 km per hour, with gusts up to 90 km per hour are likely over west-central and adjoining northwest and east-central Bay of Bengal
Heavy rainfall is most likely (obviously) over coastal Odisha early next week starting from 10 May.
Some rainfall is also expected in the Gangetic Bengal region (even though the storm may not extend quite as far as that) between 10 and 13 May.
This could include Kolkata but this depends on the path the storm takes.
What preparations are being made?
Local reports have said that 17 teams of the National Disaster Response Force, 20 from the state disaster authorities and nearly 200 fire service teams will be deployed once there is confirmation of the cyclone and landfall.
What does Asani mean?
If the low-pressure area develops into a cyclone, it will be called Asani, which is a name given by Sri Lankan weather authorities. In Sinhalese, Asani means 'wrath', or 'anger'.