Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry on edge as very severe cyclone Nivar closes in

A woman cycles amidst heavy downpour at Ambattur in Chennai on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: M. Vedhan

Cyclone Nivar over southwest Bay of Bengal has moved westwards and lay about 380 km east-southeast of Puducherry and 430 km south-southeast of Chennai on Tuesday. The storm system is expected to intensify and become a ‘very severe cyclone’ by 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday and make landfall between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry late in the evening with windspeeds in the range of 120-130 km per hour, gusting to nearly 145 kmph.

It is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during next 12 hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during subsequent 12 hours.

Click here for latest updates on Cyclone Nivar

Tamil Nadu, Puducherry on edge as very severe cyclone Nivar closes in

The storm is expected to damage standing crop, trees and thatched rooftops according to officials from the Met Department and advisories have been in place since Sunday to fishermen to avoid going out to sea. 

The system is expected to bring increasing rainfall in south peninsular India particularly over Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal from Tuesday to Thursday and rains over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and Telangana are expected to continue until Friday.

After remaining stationary for a few hours on Tuesday morning, the weather system resumed its westwards track with a speed of 5 km per hour. It may be recalled that the system was moving at an average speed of 20 km per hour on Monday. It is expected to move west-northwestwards once it intensifies into a severe cyclonic storm and then northwestwards. 

Watch | T.N. and Puducherry prepare for cyclone Nivar

It is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during next 12 hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during subsequent 12 hours.

Until early Tuesday, meteorologists had forecast a ‘severe cyclone’ but now say it will be stronger than that and be labelled a ‘very severe cyclone’. This is just a step below the strongest possible classification of an ‘extremely severe cyclone’.

M. Mohapatra, Director General, Indian Meterological Department, said at a press briefing that that tidal waves as high as 1-1.5 metres were expected to inundate low lying areas of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry near the place of landfall. He told The Hindu that the storm was characteristic of what was usually observed from October-December in the seas around India.

Disaster preparedness

With extremely heavy rainfall, and gusty winds expected, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami declared a public holiday in the State on Wednesday. He said a total of 3,344 relief camps have been kept ready and a total of 275 persons from Ariyalur, Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Vridhachalam areas have been relocated to nine relief camps.

A total of 4,133 places have been identified as vulnerable spots and special attention is being paid to these spots, the CM said. Ambulances, high power generators, tree-cutting equipment and other necessary machinery are also kept ready, he added.

Over 43,400 persons, including over 14,200 women have been trained as first responders and are ready. A total of 5,505 persons trained by the State Disaster Response Force and 691 Home Guards are also involved in the job. 

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have readied 22 teams — 12 in Tamil Nadu, 3 in Puducherry and 7 in Andhra Pradesh — to handle emergency operations.

“All teams have reliable wireless and satellite communications, tree cutters/pole cutters for post landfall restoration, if need arises. In view of current COVID-19 scenario, NDRF teams are equipped with appropriate PPEs,” the organisation said in a statement.

Reservoirs monitored

In Chennai, where the memory of the December 2015 floods is still fresh, water managers are closely monitoring the water level in city reservoirs, particularly in Chembarambakkam. “We are taking readings of the water level every two hours. The water level at Chembarambakkam reservoir stood at 21. 32 feet and received an inflow of 648 cubic feet per second (cusecs) till 6 p.m. on Tuesday. If we get around 2,500 cusecs for 24 hours, the water level will reach 22 feet and some amount of water would be released with prior warning,” said an official of the Water Resources Department. 

Rain forecast 

S. Balachandran, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Chennai, said when the cyclone is expected to make landfall on Wednesday, coastal areas are expected to experience widespread rains and many places in interior districts may get moderate rains.

The rainfall intensity may be extremely heavy (more than 24.4 cm) in one or two areas in Puducherry, Cuddalore, Mayiladuthurai, Ariyalur, Kallakurichi, Perambalur, Villupuram and Tiruvannamalai on Wednesday apart from coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema.

Nearly 16 districts, including Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Chengalpet, Vellore, Dharmapuri, Salem, Tiruchi and Thanjavur may receive heavy to very heavy rains up to 24 cm, in one or two places. 

Squally winds at speeds of 120-130 km per hour sometimes gusting up to 145 kmph are expected in Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Puducherry, Mayiladuthurai, Cuddalore, Villupuram and Chengalpet on Wednesday when the cyclone approaches the coast. 

In Tiruvarur, Kancheepuram, Chennai and Tiruvallur, squally winds of 80-90 kmph, sometimes gusting up to 100 kmph are expected from Wednesday forenoon to night, he said. 

Andhra on high alert

Authorities in Andhra Pradesh are on high alert ahead of cyclone Nivar’s landfall, and helplines have been set up in all districts to disseminate information.

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy held a review meeting with District Collectors and SPs, and asked the officials to be on high alert when the storm crosses the coast.

Fishermen in Nellore and Prakasam disticts, who had ventured into the sea, rushed back as squally wind conditions prevailed. Sea water advanced up to 100 metres in the coastal mandals. NDRF and State Disaster Response Force teams were rushed to the coastal areas.

Officials in Chittoor district are focussing on areas prone to water-logging and tree falls. Vigil has also been mounted at Araniyar reservoir and rivulets and causeways. In Guntur district, 16 multi-purpose rehabilitation centres were being set up in coastal mandals to evacuate in case of emergency.

The Meteorological Centre, Bengaluru, has issued a Yellow Alert for districts in South Interior Karnataka including Bengaluru city, for November 25 and 26, as the region is expected to receive isolated spells of heavy rainfall due to the impact of Nivar Cyclone. Kolar, Chikkaballapur, Bengaluru Urban, Bengaluru Rural, Tumakuru, Ramanagara and Mandya districts are expected to receive heavy rainfall over the next two days.

(With inputs from New Delhi and Andhra Pradesh)

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 3:13:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/coastal-tamil-nadu-braces-for-very-severe-cyclone-nivar/article33167726.ece

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