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
1 Dec 2015 Press releases
Regional knowledge centre nominates secretary of MOCHTA as board chair

[caption id="attachment_7328" align="aligncenter" width="560"] Photo credit: Farid Ahmad/ICIMOD[/caption] The Secretary of the Ministry of ...

24 Sep 2019 KDKH
Country chapter for the Koshi disaster risk reduction knowledge hub to be developed

A recent UNESCAP disaster risk-focused report has identified transboundary river basins in South Asia as disaster hotspots. One such area ...

4 May 2023 Press releases

尼泊尔加德满都讯——国际山地综合发展中心 (ICIMOD) 和可持续地球全球联盟 (GASP) 联手促进兴都库什-喜马拉雅(HKH) 的社会与环境变革。 双方签署了一份谅解备忘录 (MoU)以开展合作,联手促进农村及山区生活质量得到改善,同时为子孙后代保护该地区的生态系统。 兴都库什-喜马拉雅(HKH) 地区从阿富汗延伸到缅甸,横跨巴基斯坦、印度、中国、尼泊尔、不丹和孟加拉,拥有 10 个主要河流流域、四分之一人口和全球第三大冰冻水域。然而,科学家们越来越担心气候危机对该地区的影响,对整个地区居民的生命与生计构成威胁。 在合作伙伴关系下,国际山地综合发展中心 (ICIMOD) 和可持续地球全球联盟 (GASP)将促进与当地居民和弱势社区的磋商和参与纳入相关研究。 国际山地综合发展中心 (ICIMOD)将分享其与八个区域成员国的当地社区合作 的40 年经验,还会将其见解整合到更广泛的区域和政策论坛中。这种伙伴关系将使它们能够支持当地社区的声音和解决方案,并增加投资流量。 国际山地综合发展中心总干事白马·嘉措博士说:“与可持续地球全球联盟 (GASP)的这种伙伴关系能够加强我们在这一领域的工作——支持当地社区的声音与解决方案,并增加投资流量。通过我们在林业社区的工作,我们多次看到将当地见解融入政策制定的益处。 可持续地球全球联盟 (GASP)秘书长萨蒂亚·特里帕蒂 (Satya S. ...

18 Nov 2020 Press releases
New Director General at ICIMOD

Kathmandu, Nepal (18 November 2020): Our newly appointed Director General, Dr Pema Gyamtsho, has taken up his role, beginning his ...

29 Feb 2016 Press releases
Canada helps Nepal rebuild and prepare for future earthquakes

February 29, 2016, DELHI – Today, Jean Lebel, President of Canada’s International Development Research Centre and His Excellency Nadir Patel, ...

5 Dec 2023 Press releases
Right Honourable Mr Ram Chandra Paudel, President of Nepal, attends celebrations to mark 40 years of ICIMOD

Kathmandu, [5 December 2023] – The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) marks four decades of catalysing sustainable development in the complex ...

15 May 2018 Press releases
Forty-ninth ICIMOD Board of Governors meeting

ICIMOD works for the advancement of mountain people in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. It is governed by its BoG, ...

2 May 2023 Press releases
Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet and ICIMOD to Drive Social and Environmental Change in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Kathmandu - The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the Global Alliance for a Sustainable Planet (GASP) are ...