It is likely to intensify further and cross the Bangladesh-India coasts between Khulna and West Bengal with a diameter of hundreds of kilometres by Saturday evening, according to meteorologists.
The thrust of the wind from the storm is feared to be felt as long as 220km from the eye of the cyclone, impacting tens of millions of people on its north-northwesterly pathway.
It moved northwest further and was centred around 415 to 565 kilometres from the maritime ports of Mongla, Payra, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar on Friday midnight, the Bangladesh Meteorological Department or BMD said in a special bulletin.
Mongla and Payra have been asked to keep hoisted danger signal No. 7, with No. 11 being the signal for the worst situation.
The coastal districts of Bhola, Barguna, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagherhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and shoals will also hoist the same signal.
Chattogram Port has been advised to keep hoisted danger signal No. 6. The coastal districts of Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur and their offshore islands and raised lands will come under the same signal. The port of Cox’s Bazar has been asked to keep hoisted local warning signal No. 4.
Gusty or squally wind may affect the maritime ports, North Bay and coastal areas of Bangladesh from Saturday early morning under the storm’s peripheral influence.
All fishing boats and trawlers over North Bay have been advised to remain in shelter till further notice as the sea will remain very rough near the cyclone centre, the BMD said.
Maximum sustained wind speed within 74km of the very severe cyclone centre is about 130kph rising to 150kph in gusts or squalls.
The Indian Meteorological Department or IMD, however, has forecasted that the wind speed at the centre of the storm may drop to maximum 135kph when it will make landfall.
The storm was moving at a speed of 17kph on Friday night, the IMD said.
Under the influence of the storm and the moon phase, the low-lying areas of the coastal districts of Chattogram, Noakiiali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and their offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated by storm surge of 5-7 feet high above normal astronomical tide.
The weather has been cloudy with mild rains since Friday morning in the coastal areas and other parts of Bangladesh.
In Saturday’s weather forecast, the Met Office said light to moderate rain or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusty or squally wind is likely to occur at most places over Rajshahi, Dhaka, Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions and at many places over Rangpur, Mymensingh and Sylhet divisions with moderately heavy to very heavy falls at places over the country.
Night and day temperature may fall by 1-3° Celsius over the country.
Cyclone season in the region can last from April to December when severe storms batter coastal towns and cities, and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both Bangladesh and India.
But recent technological advances have helped meteorologists predict weather patterns more accurately and help the authorities prepare.
The government has predicted seven districts will be most vulnerable to the effects of the storm and thus prepared the cyclone shelters in these districts for evacuation.
These are Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali, Pirojpur and Bhola.
State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman told a news briefing in Dhaka that “adequate measures” have been taken to tackle the storm.
However, there is no possibility of major damage except “a little” to the crops, he said.
Around 56,000 volunteers are ready to provide help, he said adding that preparations are in place to evacuate people to safe shelters before the cyclone makes landfall.
A total of 2,000 packets of dry food have already been supplied to the areas, according to the state minister.
The officials and employees under the Water Development Board in these districts have been asked to stay in the workplace until Nov 16 so that they could take part in emergency rescue mission in the event of cyclone causing any havoc.
The government weekly holiday of Saturday and that of Eid-e-Mildunnabi on Sunday have been cancelled for the government employees in the seven vulnerable districts and six others, which are Noakhali, Feni, Laxmipur, Chandpur, Cox’s Bazar, and Chattogram.
The government has also deferred Saturday’s public exams across the country.
The Junior School Certificate or JSC exams of Saturday will be held on Tuesday and Junior Dakhil Certificate or JDC exams on Thursday.
The National University will announce news dates for the tests later.
The authorities suspended all operations at Chittagong Port on Friday evening until further notice after the Met Office raised Cyclone Bulbul warning level to danger signal.
The authorities have suspended all sorts of activities at three maritime ports and inland water transportation until further notice.
All the ships have been asked to move from the jetties to the outer anchorage.
The authorities of Shah Amanat International Airport in Chattogram said the condition was normal until Friday night, but they were ready to tackle any situation if the weather worsened due to the storm.