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Cyclone Gaja: the aftermath

Nagapattinam: In the line of fire

November 17, 2018 01:20 am | Updated 07:59 am IST - CHENNAI

In ruins: The roof of a platform at Nagapattinam railway station sustained damage on Friday. AFP

In ruins: The roof of a platform at Nagapattinam railway station sustained damage on Friday. AFP

Cyclones during the months of November-December are not new to Nagapattinam district. It has experienced two of them in the past, both of which made landfall during the night, like Cyclone Gaja.

In 1952, a cyclonic storm crossed the coast between Nagapattinam and Cuddalore on November 30. According to a report in The Hindu dated December 1, widespread rainfall was experienced in the coastal districts of the State. Ports in Nagapattinam, Porto Novo (Parangipettai in Cuddalore district) and Cuddalore were advised to replace warning signals with great danger signals.

The report also quotes a British freighter that gave a weather report about wind speed. There was a breakdown in telegraph and trunk telephone services to Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Thanjavur. Train services from Egmore railway station were affected as trees had fallen on the tracks.

Y.E.A. Raj, former deputy director general of meteorology, recalled that as there were no satellite pictures then, the Meteorological Department made forecasts and tracked cyclones using reports from ships and variations in atmospheric pressure recorded in coastal weather stations.

Better forecasts

The cyclonic storm that hit the coast near Nagapattinam on November 12, 1977 with a wind speed exceeding 100 km per hour left a trail of destruction in Thanjavur district. Nagapattinam was also severely affected.

The Hindu reported on November 13, 1977 that the Thanjavur Collector was unable to reach the taluks of Nagapattinam, Tiruthuraipoondi and Pattukottai. Mayavaram, now Mayiladuthurai, recorded 14 cm of rainfall then.

Thanjavur district had suffered immense damage and relief measures were taken up in Thanjavur, Kumbakonam and Nagapattinam. Ambulances were also pressed into service.

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