May Cyclones – Indian Subcontinent, A Historical Perspective

Did you know 50% of the disturbances become Severe Cyclonic Storms in the North Indian Ocean during the month of May the highest probability among all months.   Read on for more interesting facts about cyclones during the month of May.

Pre Monsoon Season is considered one of the most active periods for Cyclones over the North Indian Ocean.   Both Bay of Bengal & Arabian Sea have churned out some very severe cyclonic storms during the month of May over the years.  Along with the month of November, May is considered the peak months for cyclone in the Indian Sub-Continent.

Period of Study 1965 to 2014

Category of Study : Tropical Depressions & above

  • 50% of the disturbances that form during the month of May go on to become Severe Cyclonic storms.
  • The Month of May has the highest contribution to the most intense cyclonic storms in the history of North Indian Ocean Basin, 5 in all along with October


  • Arabian Sea has seen 14 disturbances during this month in the last 50 years while Bay of Bengal has seen 38 disturbances.
  • Strangely the year 1990 saw a land disturbance happen, Land depressions happen only during the Southwest Monsoon period
  • 6 out of 30 Severe Cyclones that have formed in the Arabian Sea happened during the month of May the second highest among all months, October being the highest.
  • During the last 50 years the month of May has seen two severe cyclonic storms five times.
  • The last severe cyclone was in the year 2010 which interestingly saw 3 cyclones Cyclonic storm Bandu, & 2 Severe Cyclonic Storms, Laila an eternal favourite among weather bloggers of Chennai & Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Phet which had its genesis on May 30th.


  • May 16, 1999 saw the most severe cyclone ever hit Pakistan making landfall near Karachi.


  • 1990 saw the famous Machilipatnam cyclone strike the South Indian Coast, the second worst after the Diviseema Cyclone.


  • The list of named storms that have happened during the month of May are
    • Akash
    • Aila
    • Laila
    • Bandu
    • Phet
    • Viyaru, initially named as Mahasen
  • The last 50 years has seen only one disturbance hit the Tamil Nadu Coast, a depression in the year 1995, so fairly poor prospects for Tamil Nadu


  • Andhra Pradesh comparatively has better probability with 5 Cyclones hitting the coast during the month of May though all of them have hit north of 15N Latitude.