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Cyclone Nivar | As it makes landfall, very severe cyclonic storm brings heavy rain

Thousands evacuated to safer places in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry; Gradual release of water begins from Chembarambakkam reservoir; heavy to very heavy rainfall expected to continue post-landfall also in several areas.

November 25, 2020 11:46 am | Updated November 26, 2020 01:51 am IST - CHENNAI/New Delhi

Residents of Pattinampakkam, mostly fishermen, run for safety as strong winds and waves picked up pace and move huge quantities of sand up to the road, a good distance away from the waterfront, in Chennai on November 25, 2020.

Residents of Pattinampakkam, mostly fishermen, run for safety as strong winds and waves picked up pace and move huge quantities of sand up to the road, a good distance away from the waterfront, in Chennai on November 25, 2020.

Cyclone Nivar began the landfall process that occurs before the storm actually crosses the land at about 11 p.m. on Wednesday. The ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ is the third one that will make landfall in India this year. 

Landfall is the process of a storm moving from sea to land; the actual process may take three or four hours. 

Click here for live updates on Cyclone Nivar

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin at 9.30 p.m., the cyclone was likely to blow until midnight with wind speeds of 120-130 kmph, gusting up to 145 kmph. With the convective cloud bands lying over coastal Tamil Nadu, the centre of the cyclone is approaching the Tamil Nadu coast.

The cyclone was 45 km east-southeast of Cuddalore and about 30 km east southeast of Puducherry, according to an IMD tweet at 1.18 a.m. IST.

Gale winds and incessant heavy rainfall lashed several areas in and around Chennai and coastal areas as the cyclone moved closer to the coast on Wednesday. It intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm by afternoon over southwest Bay of Bengal.

Also read | Tamil Nadu CM announces public holiday in 13 districts

Places in and around Chennai continued to receive heavy to very heavy rain on Wednesday. Nungambakkam received nearly 8 cm of rainfall, Ennore port 5 cm, and Meenambakkam recorded 8 cm till 8 p.m. on Wednesday.

Other weather stations, such as Chidambaram, Cuddalore, Aduthurai in Thanjavur district and Puducherry, recorded around 8 cm-10 cm rainfall till 8 p.m. 

According to the IMD, the cyclone may move northwestwards and cross the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram by Wednesday midnight or the early hours of Thursday with wind speeds of 120-130 kmph and sometimes gusting up to 145 kmph. Going by the automatic weather station observations, it may make landfall north of Puducherry close to Kalpakkam and Marakkanam. It may make landfall similar to Cyclone Nilam in 2012.

Cyclone Nivar | List of emergency numbers

Picks up pace

Meteorologists noted that severe weather events would begin four to five hours ahead of the cyclone making landfall. It has picked up pace and was moving at a speed of 14 km per hour.

Meanwhile, as rain continued on Wednesday, several areas were flooded, with water entering homes and housing colonies. The Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments relocated thousands of people from low-lying areas to higher ground and ensured that relief and food were provided to all. Both governments declared a holiday for Thursday, with Tamil Nadu declaring a holiday for 16 districts that are expected to be affected.

Water was released from the Chembarambakkam reservoir — 1,000 cusecs at noon — and then gradually increased in proportion to the rainfall and inflows. The gradual release from Chembarambakkam was planned to ensure that the crisis that led to deaths and destruction of property during December 2015 was not repeated.

Also read | Cyclones moving west-northwestwards yield good rain

S. Balachandran, Deputy Director-General of Meteorology, Chennai, said the intense rain spell helped Chennai overcome its deficit. As on Wednesday, it received 14% excess rain for the season. However, the State’s average seasonal rainfall still remains short of 25% to reach its normal of 34 cm as on Wednesday. “This cyclone may not be sufficient to wipe out the deficit of the entire State but it may help bring down number of rain-deficit districts,” he said.

People told to stay in

The cyclone may maintain its strength for six hours even after its landfall, and gradually weaken. Rainfall may continue on Thursday too. Districts such as Ranipet, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai may experience isolated extremely heavy rainfall on Thursday as the system passes through interior places.

While gale wind with speed reaching 65-75 kmph may prevail in interior districts, winds with speed reaching up to 65 kmph may blow in districts, such as Tiruchi, Salem and Namakkal, on Thursday, he added. The Met Department has advised people to remain indoors in these districts on Thursday.

Cyclone Nivar is the third one to make landfall in India this year. Earlier, the ‘extremely severe cyclone’ Amphan barrelled through West Bengal in May, followed by Cyclone Nisarg that ploughed through Maharashtra in June. Both Amphan and Nisarg caused extensive damage and were said to be responsible for at least 130 deaths. On average, the seas around India witness 3-4 cyclones that make landfall in the country. Last year was an unusually active cyclone season that saw eight systems.

The Bay of Bengal ends up generating more storms than the Arabian Sea and climatologists have pointed to an increase in severe storms, particularly in the Arabian Sea, as a consequence of warming oceans.

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