The approaching cyclonic storm Fani will hit the Indian coastline between Gopalpur and Chandbali, south of Puri, on the evening of May 3, the India Meteorological Department said in its latest bulletin.
Fani, which had already intensified into an “extremely severe cyclone”, was expected to generate gusts of wind with speeds of up to 205 km per hour when it makes landfall, it said. Earlier forecasts had said that the landfall was likely on the morning of May 4, and that wind speeds at that time would be 170-180 km per hour.
On Tuesday (1730 hours), Fani was located about 730 km south-southwest of Puri. “It is very likely to move northwestwards till the noon of May 1 and thereafter recurve north-northeastwards and cross Odisha coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, to the south of Puri, around the afternoon of May 3 with maximum sustained wind of speed 175-185 kmph gusting to 205 kmph,” the IMD bulletin said.
“Storm surge of about 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha at the time of landfall.” Wind speeds of around 200 km per hour could result in large-scale destruction in areas near the cyclone.
In a press statement on Tuesday, Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Padhi said the state is likely to be impacted the most by Fani.
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Addressing journalists in an effort to counter panic, he said, “In the review of the cabinet secretary done today, it was revealed that the current movement suggests the maximum impact will be on Odisha and will cross the coast in Puri district… Rains will start on May 2. Evacuation will be done in low-lying areas to pucca structures, like school buildings. Mapping will be done.” Odisha has requested two additional helicopters and extra National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams, he added.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik met the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) to request for a delay in elections to Patkura Assembly constituency, which is in Kendrapara district.
Patkura’s election, scheduled for Phase 4 of the Lok Sabha polls, was delayed after the death of BJD candidate Bed Prakash Agarwalla. The party has now nominated his wife, Sabitri Agarwalla.
The IMD said that extensive damage to all types of kuchcha houses and some damage to old and badly-managed pucca structures were expected in Ganjam, Gajapati, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinhpur districts of Odisha. It warned of potential threat from flying objects, extensive uprooting of communication and power poles, disruption of rail/road link, damage to standing crops and uprooting of large bushy trees.
Though the strength of the cyclone would be slightly less, similar damage could be expected in Kendrapara, Bhadrak, Jajpur and Balasore districts of Odisha, and in East and West Medinipur, South and North 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hoogli and Kolkata districts of West Bengal, and in Srikakulam and Vijayanagaram districts of Andhra Pradesh, the IMD said.
Some places in northern coastal Andhra Pradesh, particularly Srikakulam and Vijayanagaram districts, and south coastal Odisha could receive heavy rainfall on May 2. The IMD said that extremely heavy rainfall, in excess of 20 cm, could be expected in isolated places in coastal Odisha and adjoining districts of interior Odisha on May 3, and in north Odisha on May 4.
Coastal districts of West Bengal were also likely to heavy rainfall on May 3 while Gangetic West Bengal could expect extremely heavy rainfall the next day.