Superstorm Threatens Everest Summit Bid

8000ers Everest
Precipitation forecast for the 24 hours ending Thursday, May 21.

As the Chinese headed up Everest for their second summit attempt on the weekend, everything seemed under control. A list of 12 members of the survey team chosen for the summit was released yesterday, and they were due to reach the North Col today. China’s National Meteorological Centre had issued an optimistic weather forecast, which was shared by numerous free online sites.

Today at noon Central European Time. MountainForecast still showed great conditions at Everest on Friday, despite the super-cyclone (red blob on the Tuesday-Wednesday maps) in the Bay of Bengal.

However, almost all other reports showed a radically different picture: A super-cyclone is forming in the Bay of Bengal. High-altitude meteorological expert Michael Fagin of EverestWeather.com told ExplorersWeb of the menacing storm:

Cyclone Amphan in the Bay of Bengal nears landfall.

“A category 5 cyclone [dubbed Cyclone Amphan] is currently in the Bay of Bengal, with 240 kph winds and gusts up to 300kph,” he said. “This is forecast to move northeast and will make landfall Wednesday morning, May 20. As it moves inland, it will be south and east of Mt Everest on Thursday, May 21.” Check its track here.

Fagin added: “Although this will not make a direct hit on Mt. Everest, there is plenty moisture available to bring heavy snowfall. Last year, Cyclone Fani had a similar track, and there were reports of over 76cm of snow and very strong winds over 112kph.”

The amount of precipitation, Fagan says, is always difficult to gauge, but indications are that almost 50mm of water will fall between Wednesday and Thursday afternoons. This translates to 61cm of snow, although some other models predict much lower amounts.

Meanwhile, at the higher camps on Everest, well below the summit, wind gusts could hit almost 100kph during this time.

Rainfall forecast as the cyclone hits land.

According to the BBC, Cyclone Amphan is far from a regular storm, and the situation is serious: India is “evacuating millions from its eastern coast”. Many of these areas are currently overcrowded with people who had fled the big cities for smaller villages, where COVID-19 was not spreading so rampantly.

Alerts for coastal India will remain high until late Wednesday, when the storm heads further inland, toward the Himalaya.

Everest Chinese team at ABC (6,500m) yesterday, when the names of the 12 surveyors chosen for the summit climb were released. Photo: Xinhua

Chinese meteorologists released an update today, acknowledging the new forecast and confirming that it will affect the mountain through the week. There is still no word from the expedition about a possible change of plans.

About the Author

Angela Benavides

Angela Benavides

Sport journalist, published author and communication consultant. Feeling back home at ExplorersWeb after five years exploring distant professional ranges. From Dec19 to Feb20, I'll be also working as press manager for Alex Txikon's expeditions to Antarctica, winter Ama Dablam and winter Everest.

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