Back to news
15 May 2023 | Media Advisory

MOCHA hours away from making devastating landfall in Myanmar and Bangladesh

3 mins Read

70% Complete
Photo: Bangladesh Meteorological Department

Read in chinese

Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm Mocha is hours away from making landfall on the coasts of Bangladesh and Myanmar. Of particular worry is the potential impact on Cox’s Bazar, the world’s largest refugee camp, as well as the internally displaced camps in Rakine state, Myanmar, where an estimated six million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

ICIMOD has been collaborating closely with meteorological agencies from its member countries, leveraging their expertise in the development and application of advanced tools for weather analysis, seasonal forecasting, and climate projections. Through these collaborative efforts, ICIMOD has been developing and deploying tools and services aimed at enhancing local resilience to extreme weather events.

According to the latest advisory from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Cyclonic Storm Mocha is projected to cross the Rakhine Coasts between Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, and Kyaukphyu, Myanmar near Sittwe. Expected to hit as an Extremely Severe Cyclonic Storm around noon today, the system is then forecasted to move North-Northeastwards towards Chin State, Magway, Sagaing Regions, and Kachin State as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm.

Experts fear that Cyclonic Storm Mocha could be the most devastating storm to hit Myanmar since the catastrophic Nargis in 2008, which claimed the lives of 100,000 people. Moreover, it poses a significant threat to Bangladesh, potentially becoming the most powerful storm the country has faced in two decades.

Early warning systems set up in the past decades and the Cyclone Preparedness Programme are supporting a huge evacuation effort of millions of vulnerable people and helping aid agencies in the region to gear up for a disaster response.

Dr. Mandira Singh Shrestha, Senior Water Resources Specialist at ICIMOD, expressed deep concern, stating, “It is the most vulnerable communities in our regional member countries that are likely to bear the brunt of Storm Mocha.”

According to the IMD briefing, Cyclonic Storm Mocha is expected to bring sustained wind speeds of 180-190 kmph, with gusts reaching 210 kmph, narrowly missing the threshold for a Category 5 storm. The Washington Post reports that areas near the landfall zone should prepare for “disastrous winds, extreme surge and rainfall, as well as a freshwater flood threat.”

In anticipation of the storm’s impact, a storm surge of 3-3.5 meters above ordinary tide levels is likely to inundate low-lying areas along the North Myanmar and southeast Bangladesh coasts, accompanied by massive waves reaching up to 7 meters. The cyclone’s eye, measuring 35 kilometres, will have a particularly devastating impact within a 40 kilometres radius.

In addition to the immediate threats posed by Mocha, heavy rainfall from the storm is expected to persist throughout the region, increasing the risk of river flooding and landslides in North-East India and the Tibet Autonomous Zone of China.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) has expressed grave concern for the storm’s potential impact on vulnerable and displaced communities, including the 232,100 individuals residing in low-lying internally displaced camps in Rakhine state.

While the direct link between climate change and the frequency of hurricanes, storms, and cyclones remains uncertain, it is widely acknowledged that global warming contributes to the intensification of these weather events. Warmer sea surface temperatures provide increased energy.

Last year, Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) officially launched High-Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT). HIWAT is a customised weather research and forecasting model developed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, and provides forecasts for various weather parameters like rainfall, hailstorm, temperature, and even lightning 54 hours in advance.

BMD professionals have received training to help them independently operationalize and use HIWAT to simulate extreme weather hazards, issue forecasts, and effectively manage the system.

The tool currently covers areas of Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and northeast India. In collaboration with NASA and USAID, ICIMOD’s SERVIR-HKH initiative further customised the tool for the region, and developed specialised country-level visualisation systems for Nepal HIWAT-Nepal, Bangladesh HIWAT – Bangladesh, and Bhutan HIWAT – Bhutan.

For more information

Neraz Tuladhar

Stay current

Stay up to date on what’s happening around the HKH with our most recent publications and find out how you can help by subscribing to our mailing list.

Sign Up
4 Feb 2019 Press releases
Landmark study: Two-degree temperature rise could melt half of glaciers in Hindu Kush Himalaya region, destabilizing Asia’s rivers

“This is the climate crisis you haven’t heard of,” said Philippus Wester of the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development ...

4 Nov 2020 Press releases
A key global asset under threat

Kathmandu, Nepal (29 October, 2020): The Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) is threatened by climate and other changes, and urgent coordinated ...

1 Mar 2020 Press releases
High and dry: New study warns of looming water insecurity in Himalayan towns

Press release for immediate release High and dry: New study warns of looming water insecurity in Himalayan towns March 1, 2020, ...

16 Nov 2013 Press releases
COP19: A joint call for South-South and regional cooperation to tackle climate change challenges

Vulnerable communities in developing countries, mountain nations, and small island developing states (SIDS), need global support and knowledge ...

26 Apr 2023 Press releases
亚洲史上最严重的酷暑四月:科学家们敦促采取行动避免新都库什- 喜马拉雅地区的灾难性影响

Read in english   随着高温热浪袭击了孟加拉、中国、印度、缅甸和巴基斯坦,本月亚洲气温记录被刷新。国际山地发展中心(ICIMOD)的科学家们敦促全球政府和企业加快减排速度,发展机构来投入更多的气候资金,以努力加快脚步来帮助该地区适应气候变化。 周一(4 月 17 日)孟加拉首都达卡的气温达到41 摄​​氏度,印度普拉亚格拉吉达到 45 摄氏度,缅甸葛礼瓦达到 44 摄氏度。中国长沙、福州创当地最早入夏记录,浙江的几个城市也刷新了全省4月最高气温记录。 4 月 ...

27 Sep 2023 COP28
“Time is running out”— policymakers and experts from world’s tallest cryosphere zone call for ambition and action to save Earth’s snow and ice

Global “ice emergency” is locking in sea level rise that will put huge areas of Dhaka, Karachi, Shanghai, Mumbai ...

5 Mar 2024 Press releases
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between MoENR, Bhutan, and ICIMOD

Thimphu, Bhutan - March 5, 2024 The Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MoENR) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain ...

17 Jul 2015 Press releases
Resilient livelihoods must be at the core of Nepal’s reconstruction

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), in collaboration with the National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, today launched ...