A drizzle began in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu on Thursday morning as Cyclone Nada moved closer to 430km southwest of the coast.
The cyclone is expected to make a landfall on Friday morning between Vedaranyam in Cuddalore district and Puducherry.
The Met office has predicted heavy to very heavy rain in the wake of the cyclone in Chennai and adjoining districts, but the worst impact of the high-speed winds and rain would be felt in Cuddalore and surrounding areas.
The state government has readied two National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams and one State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) team has been stationed at Cuddalore.
One team each of the NDRF and SDRF are also being positioned at Nagapattinam and Chennai. Relief centres are also being readied in case of evacuation.
It has directed district collectors to take all precautionary steps and make preparations to evacuate people from low-lying areas to relief centres. Schools have been shut for two days in several coastal districts. Fishermen have been advised against going into deep sea for fishing.
The Met office in Chennai has warned that there could be some damage to thatched houses, power lines, transmission towers and cellphone towers in the path of the cyclone.
The cyclonic storm has brought back memories of the devastating floods that the state witnessed after unprecedented rains around the same time last year. Over 300 people died in the heaviest rains in a century that wreaked havoc across Tamil Nadu in December 2015.