Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Satellite image of powerful Cyclone Fani approaching the coast of India on May 2. Image: NOAA

Cyclone Fani intensified into a monstrous, high-end Category 4 storm in the western Bay of Bengal on Thursday as it wobbled closer to the Indian coastline. It is forecast to cross the Odisha coast as a Category 3 cyclone between Gopalpur and Chandbali, near Puri, on Friday, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The big picture: Based on reporting from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, Cyclone Fani had maximum sustained winds of 155 mph, along with higher gusts as of Thursday morning eastern time, placing it just below Category 5 status. However, the storm's winds then began to weaken slightly as it interacted with the coastline and an area of slightly cooler ocean waters.

  • Even with a weakening trend, it's likely to bring devastating winds and an extreme storm surge to coastal areas, with surge-related flooding extending well to the north of where the center crosses the coast. Historically, storm surge flooding and inland flooding are the biggest storm killers in this region.
  • According to the IMD, a storm surge in excess of 4.5 feet is likely to occur in some locations east of the storm's center, with higher amounts possible depending on the time of high tide. (Some of the storm surge guidance may have been generated before the storm rapidly intensified early Thursday, as a higher surge is possible.)

Details: Cyclone Fani is already bringing heavy rains, storm surge flooding and high winds to the eastern coast of Andhra Pradesh and Odisha, and its effects will eventually be felt all the way into Kolkata and parts of low-lying Bangladesh by the weekend as the storm accelerates to the northeast after landfall.

  • The storm is now the strongest cyclone this early in the calendar year in the North Indian Ocean since the Bangladesh Cyclone in 1991, according to Philip Klotzbach of Colorado State University.
  • According to meteorologist Bob Henson of Weather Underground, Cyclone Fani is the 6th-most intense cyclone on record in the Bay of Bengal.
  • According to UNICEF, about 100 million are in the storm's path.
  • The Indian government is working to evacuate massive amounts of people from the most vulnerable areas near the coast, with media reports putting the size of the evacuation between 800,000 and 3 million, qualifying it as one of the largest weather-related evacuations in the country's history.

Threat level: The Bay of Bengal is notorious for allowing storms like this one to pile huge amounts of water into highly populated areas. Past cyclones on par with Cyclone Fani's intensity have produced nightmarish storm surges of up to 20 feet in height, which traveled about 20 miles inland.

The context: India has been struck by half a dozen Bay of Bengal tropical cyclones of Category 1 intensity or greater during the past 20 years.

Some of the most intense and deadliest tropical cyclones (a category that also includes hurricanes) on Earth have occurred in this region.

  • One of these, Cyclone Phailin, struck Odisha as a Category 4 storm in 2013, killing 45 and causing more than half a billion dollars in damage.
  • Other recent storms have killed more people, and in the past, India has seen storms that killed nearly 10,000, including as recently as 1999.

Go deeper

House passes sweeping election and anti-corruption bill

Photo: Win McNamee via Getty Images

The House voted 220-210Wednesday to pass Democrats' expansive election and anti-corruption bill.

Why it matters: Expanding voting access has been a top priority for Democrats for years, but the House passage of the For the People Act (H.R. 1) comes as states across the country consider legislation to rollback voting access in the aftermath of former President Trump's loss.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.