Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour 16 May 2021

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae

17 May 2021 02:30-13:00 UTC and 18 May 01:00 UTC

Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour 16 May 2021
Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour 16 May 2021

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae made landfall in the state of Gujarat, in western India, on 17 May 2021 - the strongest in the region for two decades.

Last Updated

10 June 2021

Published on

17 May 2021

By Mark Higgins and Natasa Strelec Mahovic (EUMETSAT), Ivan Smiljanic (CGI), HansPeter Roesli (Switzerland)

Tropical Cyclone Tauktae formed in the equatorial Arabian Sea from a large area of low pressure, where conditions were favourable for further intensification — sea surface temperatures of up to 30 °C and low wind shear.

Over the following days, the cyclone turned northwards, parallel to the west coast of India, intensifying along the way. It reached Category 4 status at 03:00 UTC on 17 May, maximum one-minute sustained winds of 220 km/h, minimum central pressure of 950 millibars and a well-defined eye, which can be seen on Meteosat-8 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Meteosat-8 Enhanced Natural Colour RGB, 17 May 02:30-13:00 UTC

Wind speeds retrieved by scatterometer instrument on Metop satellites were above 30 m/s around the eye of the cyclone, as seen in Figure 2.

Meteosat-8 IR10.8 image overlaid with Metop-A,B and C ASCAT coastal winds at 12.5 km, 17 May 2021, 04:33 UTC
Figure 2: Meteosat-8 IR10.8 image overlaid with Metop-A,B and C ASCAT coastal winds at 12.5 km, 17 May 2021, 04:33 UTC (Metop-B overpass).

Figure 3 is the Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour showing the cyclone as it intensified on 17 May, just south of the State of Gujarat, India, a few hours before landfall.

Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour, 17 May 04:57 UTC
Figure 3: Sentinel-3 OLCI True Colour, 17 May 04:57 UTC.

Later on 17 May, at around 15:00 UTC, Tauktae made landfall in the state of Gujarat in India with slightly reduced intensity (1-minute sustained winds at 205 km/h), see track (Figure 4). However, it was still the strongest cyclone to make landfall at Gujarat since reliable records began, surpassing the record set by Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm ARB 02 in 1998.

Graphic of a storm track and 36h forecast valid at 17 May, 18:00 UTC
Figure 4: Graphic of a storm track and 36h forecast valid at 17 May, 18:00 UTC. Credit CIMMS.

Due to the very large area of convection over the cyclone, it brought heavy rainfall, producing flash floods in the affected areas. There were at least 14 reported deaths in India, as well as widespread infrastructure and agricultural damages to the western coast. Thirty-two fishermen were lost at sea when their boats got caught in the cyclone.

On 18 May the system continued to move north-northwestwards, weakening gradually over the land, moving into the region of enhanced wind shear (Figure 5), however, high level warnings for heavy rain and strong winds were maintained.

Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB, 18 May, 01:00 UTC
Figure 5: Morning view of the storm, Meteosat-8 Natural Colour RGB, 18 May, 01:00 UTC