The severe cyclonic storm Vardah is likely to make a landfall between Andhra Pradesh’s Nellore and Tamil Nadu’s Chennai by Monday afternoon and cause heavy rainfall in the region.
According to Cyclone Warning Centre (CWC), Visakhapatnam, the cyclonic storm lay centred at around 390km south-east of Nellore and 330km east of Chennai by Sunday evening. “It is very likely to move westwards and move towards north Tamil Nadu and South Andhra coasts, before making a landfall at south Andhra coast close to Chennai by Monday afternoon,” the CWC bulletin said.
Under its influence, gale winds with speed reaching 80 to 90 kmph would hit Andhra in Prakasam, Nellore and Tamil Nadu. Strong surface wings from north-easterly direction with speed reaching up to 50 to 60 kmph would be there along north coastal Andhra.
Heavy rains ranging from 15 to 20 cm are expected along the south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema region, besides moderate rainfall in Prakasam, Guntur and Anantapur. “We are gearing up to face the situation even if the rainfall is more than 20 cm. People from low-lying areas have been evacuated to safer places and fishermen have been prevented from venturing into sea,” Nellore collector Mutyala Raju said.
The Indian Navy Eastern Naval Command (ENC) and state machineries of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are on high alert to carry out relief operations, in coordination with the Indian Air Force and the Coast Guard.
“In preparation for the relief efforts of very severe cyclone Vardah, the Eastern Naval Command has assumed high degree of readiness to render necessary assistance,” a navy statement said.
“All operational ships have been readied and kept on standby to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, including evacuation, should the situation demand,” the statement added.
“Additionally, 30 diving teams with Gemini boats and four platoons with additional relief material are ready to be pressed into action at a short notice,” the navy said.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who cancelled his Gulf tour in the wake of cyclone threat, held a teleconference with the officials of the coastal districts and asked them to be on high alert. He has asked the electricity department to gear up to restore power supply within hours, in the event of breakdown of power supply.
Tamil Nadu chief minister O Panneerselvam held a review meeting with the state disaster management authority and put the administrators and all field officers in the coastal districts on high alert.
Meanwhile, schools and college in Chennai will be closed on Monday and the Tamil Nadu government has issued an advisory to private companies, recommending that their employees stay home.
The Chennai Corporation has also made several preparations, including setting up several centralised control rooms and four kitchens to cook and send out food in an emergency.