Throughout the year, average sea surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea are warm enough to support the development of tropical cyclones1, but the atmospheric monsoon circulation and associated strong vertical wind shear limits cyclone development and intensification, only permitting a pre-monsoon and post-monsoon period for cyclogenesis. Thus a recent increase in the intensity of tropical cyclones over the northern Indian Ocean5 is thought to be related to the weakening of the climatological vertical wind shear.