Odisha is bracing for heavy rain under the influence of severe cyclonic storm Amphan , which is set to skirt away from the State’s northern coast to make landfall between West Bengal and Bangladesh.
Also read: Odisha bracing for possible cyclone, 12 districts on alert
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in its bulletin on Sunday: “The severe cyclonic storm ‘AMPHAN’ over southeast Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood slightly moved and lay centred over central parts of South Bay of Bengal and neighbourhood about 980 km south of Paradip (Odisha), 1,130 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 1,250 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh).”
It added: “It is very likely to move nearly northwards slowly during next 24 hours and then re-curve north-northeastwards and move fast across northwest Bay of Bengal and cross West Bengal — Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) during the afternoon or evening of May 20.”
Rainfall will commence in Odisha from May 18 with heavy rainfall likely to occur at isolated places over the district of Gajapati, Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara. The IMD has issued an ‘orange alert’ for May 19 and 20 when heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to take place in coastal districts.
Also read: Odisha puts District Collectors on alert over possible cyclone
“The wind speed will gradually increase becoming gale wind speed reaching 75 to 85 kmph gusting to 95 kmph from May 20 morning along and off north Odisha coast. It will gradually increase thereafter becoming 110 to 120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph along and off north Odisha coast from the afternoon of May 20,” the IMD warns.
Twelve districts remain on alert. “We have kept infrastructure ready for people to be evacuated from vulnerable areas. We will issue a clear instruction for evacuation after receiving detailed information about the severe cyclone,” said Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena.
The State government is concerned about evacuation since the cyclone is expected to have the maximum impact on Balasore and Bhadrak districts, which are marked as red zones in containing the COVID-19 pandemic, and have reported 119 and 74 COVID-19 positive cases, respectively. It will be a difficult task to maintain social distancing while evacuating and sheltering the affected population.
Three units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force have already reached Bhadrak district. Ten units of the NDRF will be deployed, while another 10 units have been kept on standby.