Tropical storm Matmo has just revived itself as Cyclone Bulbul after travelling about 1,800 km overland. This is an unusual, but not unique event.
Matmo is only the fourth tropical cyclone on record to re-develop over the Andaman Sea having crossed Southeast Asia overland. It is only the second to make it to hurricane strength, the last being in 1960.
Matmo was formed in Philippine Sea, the birthplace of so many tropical cyclones, on October 24, according to a report in Al Jazeera. It formally became a tropical storm in South China Sea on October 30, after having enhanced rain and causing floods over central Philippines.
As a tropical storm, it continued west onto the coast of Vietnam, making landfall on October 31. At that point, winds were recorded at 112 kmph. The area recorded 200 mm of rain.
Then came the westward journey overland that normally destroys any tropical cyclone. The fuel for any revolving tropical storm comes from water at a temperature above 27°C. Philippines Sea is at 30°C and South China Sea is 29°C. It does not matter how warm the land is as it cannot evaporate enough moisture into the greedy storm to maintain its strength.
Matmo became almost a ghost, was not reported over Cambodia, brought increased cloud and humidity to Bangkok and Lop Buri, along with a little rain, and then wandered into Myanmar.
Matmo then arrived to Andaman Sea, which is at 30°C. Magically, the remnants of Matmo regained energy, spin, cloud and rain potential, and continued to drift westwards. It was then renamed as tropical storm Bulbul by the India Meteorological Department.
With winds back up to 120kmph, Bulbul whipped waves up to seven metres (23 feet) high. Almost in the middle of the Bay of Bengal, the cyclone is mainly a risk to shipping for the next two days. It has a forecast course northwards, towards Kolkata in West Bengal and maybe then Chittagong, Bangladesh.
Cyclone Bulbul is likely to strengthen to become a very severe tropical storm (peak strength, equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane) on Saturday. The effects on the coast of Odisha are likely to be extremely rough high seas and lashing rain.
The landfall is likely to take place somewhere along the mouth of the Ganges near Kolkata on Sunday. By then, winds should be below gale force with a consequently smaller storm surge. Heavy rain is still likely.