Cyclone Vardah brings Chennai to a standstill

The large weather system was 40 km in diameter

December 13, 2016 12:33 am | Updated December 04, 2021 11:52 pm IST - CHENNAI:

OFF THE TRACK:  A container was thrown off the yard on Ennore Express Highway in Chennai by cyclonic storm Vardah, which made landfall near the Chennai  Port on Monday.

OFF THE TRACK: A container was thrown off the yard on Ennore Express Highway in Chennai by cyclonic storm Vardah, which made landfall near the Chennai Port on Monday.

Cyclone Vardah made landfall in Chennai on Monday afternoon between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m., uprooting trees, defacing highrises, smashing cars, disrupting public transport and telecommunication, bringing the metropolitan area to a standstill.

The weather system that was first noticed nearly five days ago, grew into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ and by the time it crossed the city near the Chennai Port, it had weakened into a ‘severe cyclonic storm’ with maximum wind speeds touching 110 kmph-120 kmph.

Lull as eye crosses city

This was a large weather system, measuring nearly 40 km in diameter, which explains the time taken for the system to cross.

There was a lull between 2-30 p.m. and 5 p.m. as the eyewall of the cyclone was in transit and it normally is empty, bringing very little, or no rainfall.

The total rainfall received from early Monday up to 6 p.m. was 16 cm in the Chennai region alone, according to the Meteorological department.

By 8 p.m. the windspeeds decreased to 60-70 kmph, and the system now a ‘cyclonic storm’ moved westwards, bringing moderate to heavy rainfall to the interior areas as well. Rainfall over the northern coastal districts is expected to continue till Tuesday noon. Vardah, an Urdu word meaning red rose, contributed by Pakistan, will turn into a deep depression early on Tuesday, sources said.

While vast devastation was caused to trees and property, the total rainfall received has only partly bridged the city’s rain deficit. Before Vardah struck, the annual rainfall deficit was over 60 cm, and while the storm has narrowed the gap, there is a solid 40 cm of rainfall the city needs for the reservoirs to fill up and meet its water needs until the next monsoon.

Water managers expect another spell of rainfall before the next monsoon.

Official sources said three people died from rain-related causes in the State on Monday. Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam announced a solatium of Rs. 4 lakh each to the families of the victims.

Corporation officials pegged the number of trees fallen at 568 along the 471 bus routes and over 33,000 interior roads in the 426 sq km of the Greater Chennai Corporation limits, impeding the flow of traffic.

Most of the suburbs were cut off from other parts of the metropolitan area.

As dark clouds gathered over the city all day, power supply was disrupted. Banking transactions were affected and PoS devices failed at retail outlets.

Holiday for schools

The government declared Tuesday would be a holiday for educational institutions in three districts.

“All government, government-aided, private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts will remain closed on December 13,” an official release said.


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