Cyclone Michaung, which is swirling over the Bay of Bengal, has intensified into a severe cyclonic storm and is expected to make landfall near Bapatla on the Andhra Pradesh coast in a few hours.
Here are 10 points in this developing story:
Speaking to NDTV, the Director General of the India Meteorological Department, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said the windspeeds as of 9 pm on Monday were 90-100 km per hour near the centre of the cyclone and 70-80 km per hour along the Nellore and Prakasam districts in Andhra Pradesh.
“The system is moving northwards, therefore the windspeeds near Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu are decreasing gradually and are around 50-60 km per hour. They will further decrease near the Tamil Nadu coast. This will increase gradually (in Andhra Pradesh) and, from midnight, the windspeed may be 90-100 km per hour between Nellore and Machilipathnam and it will continue till forenoon (morning) on Tuesday,” he said.
A severe cyclonic storm has the potential to cause uprooting of small and medium trees, large-scale damage to hutments and mud houses, and partial damage to telephone and electric poles. It will also cause inundation and flooding, as has already happened in north-coastal Tamil Nadu, especially Chennai. Mr Mohapatra warned that cities and towns along coastal Andhra Pradesh will see extremely heavy, and even exceptionally heavy (30-40 cm), rainfall.
A storm surge, or tidal wave, of 1-1.5 metres is expected to inundate the low-lying areas of south coastal Andhra Pradesh and the peak storm surge will be over the Bapatla and Krishna districts. The cyclone is expected to make landfall as a severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 90-100 km per hour, gusting to 110 km per hour.
Chennai saw five rain-related deaths on Monday. Two people died of electrocution while one was killed after a tree fell on him in the upmarket Besant Nagar area of the city, the Chennai Police said, according to news agency PTI. Two unidentified bodies of a man and a woman have been found in different rain-affected parts of the city.
There is hope, however, for Chennai and the Greater Chennai area – which have seen flooding and large-scale power cuts – with the situation expected to improve after 12 am on Tuesday. “We are not expecting extremely heavy rainfall after midnight and only heavy rainfall, and isolated very heavy rainfall, can be expected. The rainfall intensity and windspeed will decrease as the cyclone is moving away from Chennai. The windspeed will decrease from 50-60 km per hour to 35-45 km per hour,” Mr Mohapatra said.
The Chennai airport will remain shut till 9 am on Tuesday and the state government has also declared a public holiday for the Chennai, Chengalpattu, Kancheepuram and Thiruvallur districts. The government has appealed to private companies to let employees work from home as far as possible.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to the chief ministers of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry on Monday and assured them of all necessary help from the Centre. The minister said adequate deployment of National Disaster Response Force personnel has already been made and additional teams are ready for further assistance.
The Collector of Andhra Pradesh’s Krishna district, Raja Babu, said Cyclone Michaung will touch the district after midnight and reach Machilipatnam before 4 am. All necessary arrangements have been made, said the collector. Bapatla Superintendent of Police, Vakul Jindal, said, “All police stations in Bapatla have been alerted. NDRF and SDRF teams are in place to carry out rescue measures. Steps are being taken to shift all those in low-lying areas to cyclone shelters.”
The Andhra Pradesh government has issued an alert for eight districts – Tirupati, Nellore, Prakasam, Bapatla, Krishna, West Godavari, Konaseema and Kakinada. In Puducherry, Section 144 has been imposed in the coastal areas, restricting movement there, until 6 pm on Tuesday.
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