A monstrous and potentially catastrophic cyclone is taking aim on India, with sustained winds estimated at about 161 mph as of Friday, Tropical Cyclone Phailin intensified rapidly in the Bay of Bengal on Thursday and is now headed for the northeast coast of India. Estimated top sustained winds increased from 65 mph to 155 mph in just 24 hours, according to Dr. Jeff Masters of Weather Underground This is equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. Gusts are as high as 195 mph. It’s close to being the strongest storm ever recorded in the Indian Ocean.
"Everything I know as a meteorologist tells me this is the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane — among the strongest on earth in 2013. That would mean Phailin could be the strongest cyclone ever measured in the Indian Ocean.” said Eric Holthaus, meteorologist for Quartz.
Officials ordered at least 40,000 coastal villagers to flee their homes Friday, and authorities plan to take another 100,000 people to safer areas before the cyclone hits. The “effects to the Indian coast … in terms of surge will be catastrophic, with the potential to erase most houses, crops and infrastructure,” reported WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue on his Twitter account.