26th Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology

Wednesday, 5 May 2004
A Climatological Study on the Landfalling Tropical Cyclones of Bangladesh
Richelieu Room (Deauville Beach Resort)
Tanveerul Islam, Florida A&M University, Tallahassee, FL; and R. E. Peterson
Poster PDF (177.6 kB)
Bangladesh is very susceptible to tropical cyclones. There is a large variability in the year-to-year occurrence of landfalling storms. In the past century, two of the deadliest tropical cyclones in modern history hit the coast of Bangladesh; each caused more death counts than the total number of casualties from all of the past hurricanes which affected the United States in its history.

Unfortunately, there is a dearth of climatological studies on tropical cyclones for Bangladesh. The Indian Meteorological Department and other Indian investigators have done most of the research on the Bay of Bengal and North Indian Ocean. However, this research was almost exclusively conducted for the Indian coast of the Bay of Bengal. Sircar(1956), Raghavendra(1973) and Mooley(1980) studied cases on the Bay of Bengal which included the Bangladesh coast.

The aim of this study has been to develop a comprehensive Landfalling Tropical Cyclone Climatology for Bangladesh for a 124-year period (1877-2001). In this study, the frequency and spatial characteristics of landfalling tropical cyclones in Bangladesh are evaluated.

A total of 133 tropical cyclones hit the coast of Bangladesh during this period, of which 42 were tropical depressions, 57 were tropical storms and 34 reached hurricane intensity. The rate of tropical cyclones hitting the coast in the past century (1900-2001) was 1.06 per year. However, for the last 51 years (1950-2001) the rate was higher, i.e. 1.26 per year. The frequency was highest in October and May and nearly absent in January, February and March. Out of the 34 hurricanes found for this study, 25 of those (74%) struck during the months of October and May.

From the study, it is found that the landfalls are not evenly distributed along the coastal segments. During 1877-2001, 33% of the total landfalling cyclones hit the Khulna coast, which is in the southwest of Bangladesh while the Cox’s Bazar coast in the southeast faced only 7% of the total landfalls. In the study, deaths and damage records by these landfalling cyclones are collected to determine their impact on different segments of the coasts. The Barisal coast faced the greatest number of deaths, much due to the Super Cyclone in 1970. Ironically, relative deaths along the Khulna coast are much less compared to the number of hits. This is mainly because of the existence of the Sunderbans forest here.

Through this study, an attempt has been taken to find out the trend and impact of landfalling tropical cyclones on the Bangladesh coast. In this regard, a database of landfalling cyclones(from 1877 to 2001) of Bangladesh has been developed which might be useful for future research.

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