Cyclone Vayu approaches India

3:48 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

Dust storms roll through India as cyclone approaches

Dust storm in Gujarat, India
Dust storm in Gujarat, India Nirav Mehta

Dust storms are kicking up in the western Indian state of Gujarat as Tropical Cyclone Vayu approaches.

This photo and video, sent to CNN by Nirav Mehta, show a massive dust storm at Banni Grasslands Reserve Wednesday. The high winds were caused by thunderstorms from the cyclone.

Watch the moment:

2:39 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

This is what Cyclone Vayu looks like from space

NASA/NRL
NASA/NRL

Cyclone Vayu can be seen churning in the Arabian Sea from space.

NASA's Aqua satellite took an image of Cyclone Vayu at about 4:05 a.m. ET Wednesday when the center of the storm was off the western coast of India, according to NASA.

NASA scientists predicted the center of the storm measured 115 miles across.

2:08 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

Here's the difference between cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons

What's the difference between cyclones, hurricanes, typhoons?

The answer: there is no difference.

The National Ocean Service says that hurricane, typhoon, and cyclone are all terms used to describe "a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters."

The location where the storm originates is how scientists determine what to call the system.

CNN Meteorologist Chad Myers explains:

  • Cyclones are in the Indian Ocean and South Pacific
  • Typhoons are in the Western North Pacific
  • Hurricanes are in the Eastern North Pacific and Northern Atlantic Basin

And yes, it is possible for storms to change names as they move across the map. For example, a hurricane can become a typhoon when it moves over the dateline.

The National Ocean Service said that these names all describe "a rotating, organized system of clouds and thunderstorms that originates over tropical or subtropical waters."

1:50 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

This is the second massive cyclone to hit India this year

Indian residents ride on a bike along a flooded road after Cyclone Fani made landfall in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on May 3, 2019.
Indian residents ride on a bike along a flooded road after Cyclone Fani made landfall in Puri, in the eastern Indian state of Odisha on May 3, 2019.

Cyclone Vayu is the second massive cyclone to hit India this year.

Last month, Cyclone Fani hit the eastern Indian state of Odisha, killing about 30 people. A similar cyclone in the area in 1999 killed at least 10,000 people.

So why was the death toll much lower for Fani? One major factor was the very effective disaster management infrastructure and mechanism India has built in the last decade or so. They have become very good at moving rescue workers in and moving residents away very quickly. So in comparison to previous cyclones, they've been seeing a significantly lower death toll in the recent years.

1:27 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

India's prime minister says disaster relief personnel "working round the clock"

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi took to Twitter to reassure residents that government officials are monitoring Tropical Cyclone Vayu.

He added that the National Disaster Response Force was working "round the clock to provide all possible assistance."

“Praying for the safety and well-being of all those affected by Cyclone Vayu. The Government and local agencies are providing real-team information, which I urge those in affected areas to closely follow,” Modi tweeted.

 Read more:

12:59 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

How India is preparing for the storm

India's Home Ministry has dispatched natural disaster teams ahead of Tropical Cyclone Vayu.

Here's what else you need to know about storm preparations:

  • India's Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba chaired a high-level meeting in New Delhi today to review the preparedness of state and central ministries/agencies concerned to deal with the situation arising out of Vayu.
  • The Indian Coast Guard, the Navy, Army and Air Force units have also been put on stand-by and surveillance aircraft and helicopters are carrying out aerial surveillance.
  • Gauba directed officials to take all precautionary measures to ensure that no human life is lost and minimize damage to infrastructure.
  • All state government employees on vacation have been called back to duty.
  • A total of 47 National Disaster Response Force teams are now in Gujarat to help local administration during and in the aftermath of the cyclone. Each team has around 45 members.
12:27 p.m. ET, June 12, 2019

Nearly 300,000 people evacuated from low-lying areas

A lifeguard walks along at Girgaum Chowpatty beach following its closure in Mumbai on June 12, 2019.
A lifeguard walks along at Girgaum Chowpatty beach following its closure in Mumbai on June 12, 2019. PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty Images

Nearly 300,000 people have been evacuated from low-lying areas in Gujarat to safer places in preparation for Tropical Cyclone Vayu, India’s Home Minister Amit Shah tweeted. 

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said Wednesday that food, water, shelter have been arranged for them.

In a statement, India's Home Ministry said evacuees will be moved to 700 shelters.