A cyclone is a storm accompanied by high speed winds and heavy rains. Cyclones are able to cause large-scale destruction of life and property in the areas they hit. A cyclone has low pressure at the centre and high pressure in its surroundings. It blows towards the centre at high speed and spins in the same direction as the rotation of earth i.e. anti-clockwise in the northern hemisphere and clockwise in the southern hemisphere.
Orissa is the most cyclone prone state in India. It is a marine state located at the east coast of India having a coastline of 480 kilometers. Between 1804 and 2000, coastal Orissa was hit by 128 cyclones of which 6 were extremely destructive. On 17th and 18th October, 1999, a cyclone hit five districts of Orissa which was followed by a super cyclone on 29th October 1999 and caused massive destruction.
Running at a speed of 260 kilometers per hour, the cyclone continued the destruction for 36 hours. Trees were uprooted and houses were collapsed owing to the high velocity winds. The major factors causing the destruction are heavy rain, wind velocity and tidal surge.
Cyclonic winds caused the tidal waves to rise up to 7-10 meters covering a land area of more than 20 kilometers. This also caused huge damage to the agricultural land and large tracks of sal, bamboo and teak plantations were vanished.
The super cyclone blew away the entire coast of Orissa, killed innumerable people, left thousands homeless, damaging houses and thousands of hectares of agricultural land. The cyclone affected around one-third of the state’s population.