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.
21 February 2023
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 220km/h, minimum central pressure of 950 millibars and a well-defined eye, which can be seen on Meteosat-8 (Figure 1).
Wind speeds retrieved by scatterometer instrument on Metop satellites were above 30m/s around the eye of the cyclone, as seen in Figure 2.
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.
Later on 17 May, at around 15:00 UTC, Tauktae made landfall in the state of Gujarat in India with slightly reduced intensity (one minute sustained winds at 205km/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.
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.