: Odisha on Monday began evacuation of people from coastal villages in the northern districts as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicted that the extremely severe cyclonic storm Amphan could intensify into a super cyclone in the next 12 hours.
“Amphan is continuously gathering strength. At 2.30 a.m., it became an extremely severe cyclone. Conditions are favourable for the system to intensify further during the next 12 hours and there are chances of it becoming a super cyclonic storm,” IMD director general Mrutyunjaya Mohapatra told media.
Elaborating further on the forecast at a press conference on Monday morning, Uma Shankar Das of the Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, said, “the storm is expected to intensify into a super cyclone over the Bay of Bengal. Its wind speed may reach 220-230 km per hour initially gusting up to 255 kmph. When wind speed crosses 219 kmph, it is categorised as super cyclone.”
“What we anticipate is that the system would maintain its intensity till Tuesday morning. When it would move in north direction, its intensity is likely to fall. At the time landfall, it will convert into a very severe cyclone,” said Mr. Das.
110-120 kmph wind speed likely
At the time of landfall, the wind speed may reduce to 145 to 155 kmph gusting up to 170 kmph. Odisha’s extreme northern-coastal end is situated around 140 km away from the landfall place. “We are expecting that the wind speed will reach maximum 110-120 kmph gusting up to 130 kmph in some parts of Odisha. Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Kendrapara and Jajpur will be affected,” he said.
Districts such as Khordha, Puri, Cuttack and Jagatsinghpur may record a wind speed from 55 to 65 kmph gusting up to 75 kmph. All these districts will receive maximum rainfall on May 19.
Amphan, which formed over the central parts of the south Bay of Bengal and adjoining central Bay of Bengal, moved nearly northwards with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred over west central and adjoining central parts of south Bay of Bengal about 790 km nearly south of Paradip (Odisha), 940 km south-southwest of Digha (West Bengal) and 1,060 km south-southwest of Khepupara (Bangladesh), saysthe IMD bulletin.
The cyclone is likely to cross West Bengal–Bangladesh coasts between Digha (West Bengal) and Hatiya Islands (Bangladesh) during the afternoon or evening of May 20.
As preparedness measure for possible cyclone, 567 cyclone shelters and 7,000 concrete buildings have been identified to accommodate about 11 lakh people, the Odisha government said.
Besides, three of the National Disaster Response Force, 12 Odisha Disaster Rapid Action Force, 355 fire service units have been deployed to deal with cyclonic situation.
In Dhamra area of Bhadrak, people have been alerted about the cyclone. Similarly, Jagatsinghpur and Kendrapara district administrations asked the people staying low-lying areas to move out to safer places.
“We are fully prepared. The vulnerability analysis has been completed. People staying in low-lying and in close range to tidal surge areas have been cautioned,” said Kendrapara Collector Samarth Verma.