Tamil Nadu’s Chennai received very heavy rainfall on Wednesday morning even as the powerful Cyclone Nivar is barrelling towards the southeastern coast prompting authorities to declare a holiday, ban public gatherings, closing shops and mobilising thousands of rescue personnel. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said Cyclone Nivar is set to cross the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry as a “very severe cyclonic storm” late on Wednesday. Parts of Andhra Pradesh are also forecast to be slammed by the cyclone.
The cyclone is expected to make landfall between Mamallapuram and Karaikal late on Wednesday with a wind speed of up to 145kmph, according to IMD. IMD said, in a series of tweets on Wednesday morning, that “very heavy rainfall – 120 mm – recorded in Chennai/Minabakkam” from 8:30am on Tuesday to 5:30am as of Wednesday. “It is very likely to move west-northwestwards for next 06 hours and northwestwards thereafter; cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram during the night of 25th Nov as a very severe cyclonic storm with wind speed 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph,” it said.
Also read | Assure all possible support to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry from Centre, tweets PM Modi
“Near latitude 10.2°N and longitude 82.0°E about 300 km east-southeast of Cuddalore, about 310 km east southeast of Puducherry and 370 km south southeast of Chennai. It is very likely to intensify further into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm during next 12 hours,” the weather bureau said in another tweet. “The Severe Cyclonic Storm NIVAR over southwest Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 06 kmph during past six hours and lay centred at 0230 hrs IST of 25th November, 2020 over southwest Bay of Bengal,” it added.
Also Read | Nivar to cross Tamil Nadu coast as ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ tonight
Tamil Nadu’s chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami declared Wednesday a public holiday and said it could be extended. In Puducherry, public gatherings were banned from late Tuesday until early Thursday. Shops in the Union territory, except those for essential services like pharmacies and petrol stations, were to be shut until the cyclone passes.
Also read | Trains and buses cancelled, NDRF teams on alert: Here’s how Tamil Nadu is bracing for Cyclone Nivar
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed as many as 30 teams in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh and 20 additional teams have been kept on standby to help assist local authorities on possible evacuations of residents from vulnerable coastal areas, the Centre has said. Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea, while people in coastal areas are also being evacuated to shelter houses.
IndiGo flights to or from the southern region, mainly Chennai, have been disrupted. “A total of 49 flights that were scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) have been cancelled. We will monitor the situation and decide on the further course of action for November 26. We are accommodating passengers on next available flights at no additional charges, waiving off cancellation fee and the refunding full ticket amount,” IndiGo said in a statement on Tuesday.
Southern Railway has cancelled a few train services and inter and intra bus-services, including those of private buses, have been suspended in seven districts of Tamil Nadu. Medical counselling for undergraduate courses scheduled on Tuesday in Chennai has been postponed to November 30.
Before this Gaja, which was classified as a very severe cyclonic storm, made landfall in Tamil Nadu during the northeast monsoon in mid-November 2018, claiming 46 lives and left a trail of destruction in the southern state.
Cyclone Nivar’s centre is expected to pass some 175 kilometres northeast of Sri Lanka’s northernmost Kankesanthurai coastal town early Wednesday.
(With agency inputs)