Tropical Storm 1B strengthened overnight into a Category One cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson scale and has been officially renamed "Laila." NASA's Aqua satellite captured a visible image of Laila today, May 19, revealing that the storm has organized overnight and is already affecting coastal areas of southern India.
The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiomenter or MODIS instrument that flies aboard Aqua captured Laila in an image at 08:10 UTC (4:10 a.m. EDT). At that time, Laila had reached cyclone strength with maximum sustained winds near 74 mph. It was located about 70 nautical miles east-northeast of Chennai, India, near 13.9 North latitude and 91.3 East longitude. Laila is moving northwestward near 7 mph (6 knots).
The Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) instrument that also flies aboard NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of the cloud-top temperatures in Laila at the same time. The image showed that the higher, colder, more powerful thunderstorms were still over the Bay of Bengal and mostly in the eastern half of the storm. In addition, there were some high, strong thunderstorms over land.
Forecasters at the India Meteorological Department noted in an advisory on May 19, "the system is likely to intensify further and move in a northwesterly to northerly direction and cross Andhra Pradesh Coast between Nellore and Kakinada, close to Machilipatnam by morning of may 20." For updates on Watches and Warnings along the India coast, visit the India Meteorological Department's web site at: http://www.imd.gov.in/
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center, the organization that forecasts for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean, noted that Cyclone Laila is expected to make landfall near 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday and gradually weaken as it tracks along the southeast coast of India. Its track will take it toward Bangladesh and over the northern Bay of Bengal by Saturday, May 22.