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Cyclone Sidr

Related subjects: Natural Disasters

Background Information

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Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Sidr
Very severe cyclonic storm ( IMD)
Category 4 cyclone ( SSHS)
Sidr in the Bay of Bengal
Formed November 11, 2007
Dissipated November 16, 2007
Highest winds 3-minute sustained:
215 km/h (130 mph)
1-minute sustained:
250 km/h (155 mph)
Lowest pressure 944 mbar ( hPa); 27.88 inHg
Fatalities ≥3,447
Damage $450 million (2007 USD)
Areas affected Bangladesh and West Bengal, India
Part of the 2007 North Indian Ocean cyclone season

Cyclone Sidr ( JTWC designation: 06B, also known as Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Sidr) is the fourth named storm of the 2007 North Indian Ocean cyclone season. The storm formed in the central Bay of Bengal, and quickly strengthened to reach peak sustained winds of 215 km/h (135 mp/h), which would make it a Category-4 equivalent tropical cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Scale. The storm eventually made landfall near Bangladesh on November 15. The storm caused large-scale evacuations in Bangladesh. So far, 3,447 deaths have been blamed on the storm, with that number expected to rise.

Save the Children estimated the number of deaths to be between 5,000 and 10,000, while the Red Crescent Society reported on November 18 that the number of deaths could be up to 10,000. As of November 19, international groups have pledged US$25 million to repair the damage.

Storm history

On November 9, an area of disturbed weather developed southeast of the Andaman Islands, with a weak low-level circulation near the Nicobar Islands. Initially moderate upper-level wind shear inhibited organization, while strong diffluence aloft aided in developing convection. Vertical shear decreased greatly as the circulation became better defined, and a Tropical Cyclone Formation Alert was issued on November 11 while located a short distance south of the Andaman Islands. Around the same time, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) designated the system as Depression BOB 09. The Joint Typhoon Warning Centre (JTWC) upgraded it to Tropical Cyclone 06B after Dvorak estimates indicated winds of 65 km/h (40 mph). Later that day, it intensified into a deep depression as it moved slowly north-westward.

The IMD upgraded the system to Cyclonic Storm Sidr early on November 12. The system then began to intensify quickly as it moved slowly northwestward, and the IMD upgraded it to a severe cyclonic storm later that day and a very severe cyclonic storm early the next day. On the morning of November 15, the cyclone intensified to reach peak winds of 215 km/h (135 mph) according to the IMD, and a peak of 250 km/h (155 mph) according to the JTWC. Sidr officially made landfall around 1700 UTC later that day, with sustained winds of 215 km/h (135 mph). It weakened quickly after landfall and the final advisories were issued early on November 16. The name Sidr was contributed by Oman; it is an Arabic name of a tree belonging to the genus Ziziphus, specifically the Ziziphus spina-christi. There is another saying that it is derived from the Sinhalese Language where "Sidr" means 'hole' or 'eye.


As it intensified to a Category 4-equivalent cyclone on November 15, thousands of emergency officials were put on standby in eastern India and Bangladesh in advance of the storm's arrival. Massive evacuations of low-lying coastal areas also took place. A total of 2 million people in Bangladesh evacuated to emergency shelters. The Indian Metrological Department (IMD) also issued a cyclone alert for Orissa and West Bengal on November 14. In Bangladesh, an emergency cabinet meeting decided to withdraw weekly leave for the government officials to join the evacuation process. Over 40,000 Red Cross volunteers were deployed to order residents in the 15 affected provinces into special cyclone and flood shelters. The main ports have been closed.


The remnants of Cyclone Sidr.

Coastal districts of Bangladesh faced heavy rainfall as an early impact of the cyclone. Dhaka and other parts of Bangladesh experienced drizzle and gusty winds. Total damages came close to $450 million.

Tidal waves reaching up to a height of 3 metres (9.8 ft) were reported in the coastal areas of north Chennai in southern state of Tamil Nadu in India, triggering panic among the fishing community.

The damage in Bangladesh was extensive, including tin shacks flattened, houses and schools blown away and enormous tree damage. Some local officials have described the damage as being even worse than that from the 1991 cyclone. The entire cities of Patuakhali, Barguna and Jhalokati District were hit hard by the storm surge of over 5 meters (16 ft). About a quarter of the world heritage site Sunderbans were damaged. Researchers said mangrove forest Sunderban will take at least 40 years to recover itself from this catastrophe. Much of the capital city of Dhaka was also severely affected, as electricity and water service were cut and significant damage was reported there due to winds and flooding. The local agricultural industry was also devastated, as many rice crops - which have a December harvest - were lost.

At least 3,447 deaths have been reported. The hardest-hit area was Barguna, where 423 people were reported to have been killed according to local officials. Patuakhali was also hard-hit, with 385 deaths reported. Most of the deaths confirmed thus far were due to the winds, although 13 of them have been as a result of capsized boats in the Faridpur district of Bangladesh. The head of the Red Crescent in Bangladesh expects the death toll to reach as high as 10,000. Over 3,000 other fishermen were reported missing on over 500 fishing boats.

Disaster response

Map showing Sidr affected districts and disaster response.

Cyclone Sidr slammed the highly vulnerable low lying densely populated coastal areas of Bangladesh with heavy rain, winds of up to 120 miles/hr, and a storm surge. Sidr may be the strongest cyclone to hit the country since a cyclone killed over 143,000 Bangladeshis in 1991. Although, the death from Sidr number in the hundreds but damage to homes, crops and livelihoods could be extensive. Under a Cyclone Preparedness Program, volunteers evacuated at least 600,000 Bangladeshis in the path of the storm. Many are housed in 1,800 multipurpose disaster shelters built along the coast. Relief organizations are distributing seven-day emergency disaster kits of food, blankets and clothing for evacuated families.

Since 1991, the donor community, including the US and EC, has supported disaster-preparedness to mitigate the impact of tropical storms and improve post-disaster relief and reconstruction. Cyclone walls planted with trees are in place to protect vulnerable areas from storm surges. Disaster shelters on stilts housing refugees plus early warning systems and timely evacuations appear to have greatly reduced the fatalities from Sidr.


Houses damaged by the cyclone.

After the storm, five Bangladesh Navy ships were immediately dispatched with food, medicine, and relief supplies for the hardest-hit areas. Saudi Arabia also donated US$100 million to the relief effort as the country's largest relief sum ever. The European Commission also released 1.5 million (US$2.4 million) in emergency relief to Bangladesh. The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, has pledged more than US$14.4 million in emergency assistance, including more than US$10 million in food assistance from the U.S. Food for Peace program. The United States Navy also released over 3,500 Marines aboard USS Kearsarge and USS Wasp (located in the Gulf of Oman) and USS Tarawa (located in Hawaii) to aid in the recovery efforts.

Other agencies quickly followed in providing aid. World Vision released volunteers to help house more than 20,000 people left homeless. The Red Cross also brought a significant presence, while assessments of the damage were underway. Bangladesh Red Crescent Society initally asked 400 million Taka to the international community. As part of the Bangladeshi cricket team's tour in New Zealand, a charity Twenty20 match was held with all funds raised going to the victims. In addition, the International Cricket Council donated US$250,000 to the funds at the start of the match.

People of the cyclone affected area are having severe health problems as diseases like diarrhea spread due to shortage of drinking water.The landfall of Sidr had followed the devastation caused by consecutive floods earlier in 2007.

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