Tropical Cyclone Hazard to Mumbai in the Recent Historical Climate

Sobel, Adam H.; Lee, Chia Ying; Camargo, Suzana J.; Mandli, Kyle T.; Emanuel, Kerry A.; Mukhopadhyay, Parthasarathi; Mahakur, M.

The hazard to the city of Mumbai, India, from a possible severe tropical cyclone under the recent historical climate is considered. The authors first determine, based on a review of primary sources, that the Bombay Cyclone of 1882, documented in a number of print and Internet sources and claimed to have caused 100 000 or more deaths, did not occur. Two different tropical cyclone hazard models, both of which generate large numbers of synthetic cyclones using environmental data—here taken from reanalyses in the satellite era—as input, are then used to quantify the hazard, in conjunction with historical observations. Both models indicate that a severe cyclone landfall at or near Mumbai is possible, though unlikely in any given year. Return periods for wind speeds exceeding 100 kt (1 kt = 0.5144 m s−1) (the threshold for category 3 in the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale) at Mumbai itself are estimated to be in the range of thousands to greater than 10 000 years, while the return period for a storm with maximum wind speed of 100 kt or greater passing within 150 km of Mumbai (possibly close enough to generate a substantial storm surge at the city) is estimated to be around 500 years. Return periods for winds exceeding 65 kt (hurricane intensity on the Saffir–Simpson hurricane wind scale) are estimated to be around 200 years at Mumbai itself, and 50–90 years within 150 km. Climate change is not explicitly considered in this study, but the hazard to the city is likely to be increasing because of sea level rise as well as changes in storm climatology.

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Monthly Weather Review