Cyclone Remal: IMD Issues Red Alert In West Bengal, Kolkata Airport To Suspend Flight Ops | Details

The Met department said that the severe cyclonic storm is likely to make landfall between Sagar Island in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh.

NCMC directed authorities to ensure zero loss of life and minimum property damage Photo: PTI/X@Indiametdept

Cyclone Remal, a severe cyclonic storm, has formed over the Bay of Bengal and is likely to make landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh coasts on Sunday midnight, the India meteorological Department (IMD) said today.

This is the first cyclone in the Bay of Bengal this pre-monsoon season and it will be known as 'Remal'.

In its bulletin, the Met department said that the severe cyclonic storm is likely to make landfall between Sagar Island in West Bengal and Khepupara in Bangladesh.


The coastal districts of West Bengal and northern Odisha have been warned of extremely heavy rainfall on May 26 and 27.

The IMD issued a red alert for West Bengal's coastal districts of South and North 24 Parganas district for May 26-27, while issuing an orange alert for Kolkata, Howrah, Nadia and Purba Medinipur.

The Met office predicted heavy rain in Purba Medinipur on Saturday, May 25, where elections are being held in Tamluk and Kanti Lok Sabha constituencies located within the coastal district.

Meanwhile in Odisha, the coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak and Kendrapara will receive heavy rain on May 26-27, while precipitation is likely in Mayurbhanj on May 27.

Kolkata Airport To Suspend Flight Operations For 21 Hours

The authorities of Kolkata airport have decided to suspend flight operations for 21 hours from Sunday noon in view of the possible impact of cyclone Remal, an official told news agency PTI. 

The precautionary measure was taken after a meeting of the stakeholders of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International (NSCBI) Airport on Saturday. 

“In view of cyclone Remal's impact on the coastal region of West Bengal, including Kolkata, a meeting was held with the stakeholders and it has been decided to suspend flight operations from 1200 IST on May 26  to 0900 IST on May 27 due to predicted heavy winds and heavy to very heavy rainfall in Kolkata,” NSCBI airport director C Pattabhi said in a statement. 


India's top decision-making body on emergency situations, the National Crisis Management Committee, asked all fishermen in the Bay of Bengal to return to safety due to the impending Cyclone Remal, directing authorities to ensure no life is lost and minimise property damage.

Headed by Cabinet Secretary Rajiv Gauba, the NCMC discussed the preparedness for the cyclone at a meeting in the national capital on Friday.

NCMC was told that 12 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed at vulnerable areas and five additional teams are on standby.

"Rescue and relief teams of the Army, Navy and Coast Guard along with ships and aircrafts have been kept in readiness. Regular alerts and advisories are being sent by Director General, Shipping to the ports of Kolkata and Paradip," an official release read.

Gauba asked the West Bengal government to review the placement of large hoardings in the areas likely to be affected by the cyclonic storm.

This came after the Ghatkopar hoarding collapse incident in Maharashtra's Mumbai.

IMD Director General also briefed the NCMC about the current status of the depression over the central Bay of Bengal, about 800 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh) and 810 km south of Canning (West Bengal).

The NCMC directed that in case of damage, essential services like power and telecom should be restored as soon as possible.

Cabinet Secretary Gauba reviewed the measures taken by the central agencies and the Bengal government. He said that the aim must be to keep the loss of lives to zero and the damage to property and infrastructure minimum.

The official release also noted that Gauba has asked to ensure that the fishermen who are currently at sea, are called back and people residing in vulnerable areas are evacuated well in advance.


The Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) has stationed many teams to respond to emergency situations such as a building collapse or falling of tree, deploying portable pumps in areas prone to waterlogging.

"Double the usual number of squads will be deployed to clear roads by cutting fallen trees. More building demolition squads, which pull down dangerous portions of buildings, will be stationed across the city," a KMC official was quoted as saying by The Telegraph.

The district control rooms have been activated and active monitoring of the situation is underway. Other than this, adequate shelters, power supply, medicine and emergency services have also been kept in readiness.

Emergency teams have been deployed by the Ministry of Power for immediate power restoration.

Notably, Calcutta Airport's Director held a meeting with the weather department officials, air traffic control (ATC) and communication navigation and surveillance teams.

Awareness drives were also conducted by East Midnapore authorities in tourist attractions like Digha, Mandarmoni, Tajpur and Shankarpur. Visitors were asked to stay away from the sea.

A fishing ban will also be in place from Saturday till Monday, said an official from the state fisheries department.


"The trajectory of the cyclone will be clearer by Saturday evening. We will be able to understand the impact of the cyclone and take more measures accordingly," a senior KMC official was quoted as saying , adding that, "We have, however, created the infrastructure that might be required to deal with heavy rainfall and very strong winds."

The district disaster management officer of South 24-Paraganas, BP Kundu, noted that over 5,000 people have been moved to cyclone or flood relief shelters. As many as 115 multipurpose cyclone shelters and 17 flood shelters are there.

In East Midnapore, 25,000 people were shifted to safety. The district has 43 multipurpose cyclone shelters.


Officials said that motorised boats are kept on standby for any situation. Necessary preparations have also been made for distributing relief material like tarpaulin sheets, dry food items, etc.

In New Town, specialised disaster managements teams have been given petrol-powered chainsaws, hydraulic earthmovers and trucks, The Telegraph reported.

“We may also ask people living in dilapidated buildings to shift to the shelters, depending on the forecast about the possible impacts on Calcutta,” the KMC official said while warning the residents.


Scientists have said that cyclonic storms are rapidly intensifying and retaining their potency for longer periods because of warmer sea surface temperatures, which is a resultant of the oceans absorbing most of the excess heat from greenhouse gas emissions.


Since the records started being maintained in 1880, the past 30 years have witnessed the highest sea surface temperatures.

Senior IMD scienties DS Pai said that warmer sea surface temperatures mean more moisture, which is favourable for intensification of cyclones.

While former secretary of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, Madhavan Rajeevan, said a sea surface temperature of 27 degrees Celsius and above is needed for a low-pressure system to intensify into a cyclone.

At preset, the sea surface temperature in the Bay of Bengal is around 30 degrees Celsius. "The Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea are very warm at present, so a tropical cyclone can easily form," Rajeevan said.


The ocean is not the only factor in tropical cyclones, but atmosphere also pays an important role. More so in terms of vertical wind shear, a change in wind speed or direction with altitude.

"A cyclone will not intensify if the vertical wind shear is very large. It will weaken," Rajeevan noted.

(With PTI inputs)