As the tropical cyclonic storm Lehar is gradually gaining strength, the India Meteorological Department has put the State Government on alert asking the administration to evacuate people from coastal areas as also regulate rail and road traffic over the next two days.

Lehar crossed the Andamans and moved westwards in the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday. It currently lay centred at 920 km off Machilipatnam and 850 km off Kakinada coasts. The system is expected to intensify further and cross the coast near Kakinada on Thursday afternoon.

The sea condition is expected to be rough with waves 2.5 m to 3.5 m high, forecast to hit the coast (Nellore to Ichchapuram) from 11.30 am on Wednesday to November 28 midnight.

Moderate rainfall would be witnessed at many places across the north coastal region with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places.

The storm would increase its intensity with gale wind speed reaching 170 to 180 kmph along and off the coastal districts of Krishna, East & West Godavari and Visakhapatnam while Vizianagaram, Srikakulam and Guntur districts are expected to witness winds with speed of 120 to 130 kmph at the time of landfall.

Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the preparedness of the administration at a meeting on Tuesday and directed Chief Secretary P.K. Mohanty to take necessary steps to prevent loss of life and property. The Government notified total suspension of fishing activity along and off the coast.Special officers had been nominated to the coastal districts to supervise rescue and relief operations.

In all, 33 teams of NDRF – Visakhapatnam and Krishna (6 each), East Godavari (16) and West Godavari had been deployed. The Defence Ministry was asked to keep four helicopters – two each at Visakhapatnam and Hakimpet – ready.

Collectors had been directed to open control rooms at district and divisional levels to receive complaints.

The Disaster Management Department had contacted 529 of the 580 vulnerable villages in nine districts to know the status of boats that ventured into the sea.