As cyclone Gaja advances, IMD issues red warning for 7 Tamil Nadu districts
With heavy to very heavy rain predicted in some Tamil Nadu districts when Cyclone Gaja makes landfall on November 15, the India Meterologocal Department (IMD) has issued a “red warning” recommending that local authorities should take action and move coastal dwellers to safe places.
According to the warning, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukottai, Tuticorin and Ramanathapuram districts are likely to receive “extremely heavy rainfall” (in excess of 20 cm) on Thursday.
A statement by the ministry of earth sciences, under which the IMD works, has clarified that a “red warning” has been issued, not a “red alert”.
A red warning, which recommends to state governments that all possible action should be taken to keep people safe, is different from a “red alert” that is issued by a state government to warn the local people about impending weather conditions.
“The red warning for some districts means that local authorities should take action for extremely heavy rain. The severe cyclonic storm will weaken before landfall. But when the storm is severe, ships and fishermen in the deep sea are likely to be impacted,” said M Mohapatra, IMD’s meteorology director.
The IMD had issued a red warning for several Kerala districts on August 9 this year, following which the state witnessed flooding unprecedented in at least 80 years.
In the case of Tamil Nadu, the action suggested by the MoES statement is “total suspension of fishing operations” along and off the coasts of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh till November 15.
“The fishermen are advised not to venture into central parts of south and central Bay of Bengal on November 13 and into southwest and adjoining west-central Bay of Bengal till November 15,” the statement said.
Fishermen who are in the deep sea have been advised to return to the coast while coastal hutment dwellers will be moved to safer places by the local authorities. Other people in affected areas have been asked to stay indoors.
On Tuesday, the cyclonic storm lay centred about 690 km east-northeast of Chennai and 790 km east-northeast of Nagapattinam, having moved west-northwestwards at a speed of 12 kmph from its earlier position over west-central and adjoining east-central and south Bay of Bengal.
“It is likely to move west-southwestwards and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours. While moving west-southwestwards further, it is likely to weaken gradually on November 15 and cross Tamil Nadu coast between Pamban and Cuddalore as a cyclonic storm,” the MoES statement said.
On November 14, when Gaja develops into a severe cyclonic storm, wind speeds are likely to touch 90-100 kmph and gust to 115 kmph. A storm surge with a height of about one metre above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate low-lying areas of Nagappattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall, the statement added.
The MoES has also issued a “yellow warning”, recommending that people “be updated” on the weather situation over north and south coastal Tamil Nadu and south coastal Andhra Pradesh from November 14 evening.
On November 15, there is a yellow warning for Kerala too. Parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala are likely to receive very heavy rainfall on November 16.
Tamil Nadu revenue minister R B Udhayakumar told the media in Chennai that eight National Disaster Response Force teams and seven squads of the state disaster response force had been sent to vulnerable districts. A 24-hour control room had been set up in Chennai and mobile medical teams were in place, he said.