People walk along a breakwater at Kasimedu fishing harbour as Cyclone Phethai approaches Chennai on Sunday.(AFP Photo)
People walk along a breakwater at Kasimedu fishing harbour as Cyclone Phethai approaches Chennai on Sunday.(AFP Photo)

Cyclone Phethai to make landfall in Andhra Pradesh today, alert sounded

This is the third cyclone to hit the state this year after Cyclone Daye and Cyclone Titli, but weather officials say it is likely to weaken before making landfall on Monday afternoon
Hindustan Times, Vijayawada | By Gali Nagaraja
UPDATED ON DEC 17, 2018 10:12 AM IST

Phethai, the cyclone, over southwest and adjoining west-central Bay of Bengal is very likely to intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” during the next six hours and move north-northwest, and cross Andhra Pradesh coast around Kakinada on Monday afternoon, said the Cyclone Warning Centre at Visakhapatnam in its latest 4.35 pm bulletin on Sunday.

The cyclonic storm lay centred at 2.30 pm on Sunday at about 480 km southeast of Machilipatnam and 510 km south-southeast of Kakinada.

“However, due to unfavourable environmental conditions, it is likely to weaken slightly before landfall and cross coast as a cyclonic storm,” said the bulletin.

Rainfall at most places will be heavy, very heavy at few places and extremely heavy at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh and Yanam district of Pondicherry on Monday. After cyclones Daye and Titli this year, the threat of Phethai looms large over Andhra Pradesh.

M Mahapatra, head of Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre of India Meteorological Department told Hindustan Times that Phethai is relatively less severe when compared to Titli that ravaged Srikakulam district in north coastal Andhra region, leaving eight people dead and parts of Odisha in September.

“We graded Titli as very severe cyclonic storm, whereas Phethai is expected to weaken and end up as a cyclonic storm by the time it makes a landfall, due to unfavourable conditions,” he observed.

Titili left a trail of terror and destruction with gales speeding up to 165 kmph. Phethai, however, is predicted to cause a gale speed of 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph along and off Andhra coast from Monday.

The state government has put seven coastal districts of Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari, East Godavari, Visakhapatnam and Srikakulam on a high alert in the wake of the predictions over the movement of Phethai.

A two-day holiday has been declared for schools from Monday as a precautionary measure to ensure safety of schoolchildren. Rescue personnel on leave have been called back.

Chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu at a teleconference on Sunday called for a close coordination among panchayat raj, roads and buildings and rural water supply departments in handling the cyclone.

Naidu said a request has been made for deployment of National Disaster Response Force teams in the vulnerable districts well in advance. In addition, police and fire services will also be pressed into service.

Paddy growers in the delta regions of Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts are worried over the safety of their produce due to the forecast of heavy gales and rains triggered by the cyclone.

The farmers harvested the kharif crop and kept the produce ready for sale in the open fields.

The AP government directed the civil supplies department to run the paddy procure centres round the clock to ensure lifting of the produce from farmers to the maximum extent and mitigate the losses.

Story Saved