Nivar made landfall along the Tamil Nadu-Puducherry coast on late on Wednesday as the state hunkered down to face the “very severe” cyclone—its fifth major one in the last eight years.
As the cyclone approached, the Tamil Nadu government evacuated about 1.25 lakh people to 1,486 relief camps in Chennai and southern districts by Wednesday evening. A total of 4,200 camps have been made operational since Tuesday and the evacuation will continue till Thursday noon, state revenue minister R B Udhaya Kumar told The Indian Express.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) at Chennai said the cyclone’s landfall process had commenced.
S Balachandran, Deputy Director-General of IMD Chennai, had earlier said: “It is likely to make landfall between Karaikal (south of Puducherry) and Mamallapuram (south of Chennai city) starting from Wednesday night to early hours of Thursday.”
According to the Regional Meteorological Department in Chennai, gale winds at speeds of 115-125 kmph and gusting to 140 kmph were swirling over the Southwest Bay of Bengal, but intensified to 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph (or the “very severe” category) by Wednesday evening. Now that the landfall has occurred, the cyclonic storm is likely to take about six hours to weaken.
Explained Cyclone Nivar: Its intensity and impact right now
Landfall refers to the phenomenon of a cyclone’s outer wall moving over the coastline and beyond.
Tamil Nadu’s northeastern coastal stretches and districts have been receiving heavy rainfall since Tuesday morning. Heavy rain is expected in Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur and Pudukkottai districts on Thursday as well, said a weather bulletin.
IMD has warned of gale winds along with “extremely heavy” rainfall on Thursday and Friday mainly over Tamil Nadu’s Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur amd Vellore districts and Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema, Chittor, Kurnool, Prakasam and Kadapa districts.
Besides, heavy rain has also been forecast over south-interior Karnataka and Telangana on Thursday and Friday as the cyclone enters the mainland.
The Southern Railways has cancelled at least 10 trains scheduled for Thursday and Friday, and all three ports in Chennai have been closed. Several merchant ships have also been sent out to the outer seas as part of safety protocol. The Chennai Airport suspended flights between 7 pm (Wednesday) and 7 am (Thursday).
The state government, meanwhile, declared a holiday for 16 districts on Thursday. Wednesday, too, was a holiday.
The authorities have also ordered suspension of fishing activity along the coastline. The Coast Guard and National Disaster Response Force have deployed multiple teams and rescue ships along the Tamil Nadu, Puducherry coastline.
In recent years, Tamil Nadu has faced frequent cyclonic events that have wrought enormous destruction in the region. Cyclone Gaja in November 2018 damaged over 22,000 hectares of agrarian land. Okhi, the most intense tropical cyclone, caused massive destruction in southern regions of Tamil Nadu and the Kerala coast in November 2017. Cyclone Vardah in December 2016 knocked out an estimated 33,000 trees in Chennai city alone. In October 2013, Cyclone Nilam caused several deaths, including that of seafarers, in Chennai.
Key Chennai reservoir opened
In Chennai, the relentless rain led to waterlogging in several parts and forced the authorities to release large quantities of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, a key drinking water source for the city. For the first time after the massive floods of 2015, about 1,000-1,500 cusecs of water were released from the reservoir on Wednesday afternoon. The volume of release was increased to 5,000 cusecs by the evening, with more water expected to be released by night. Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami along with senior officials inspected the Chembarambakkam catchment area on Wednesday.
Chennai cyclone helplines: 044 25384530 or 044 25384540 or the control room 1913 (available 24×7)
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