Cyclone Nivar: Chennai airport shuts operations tonight; trains canceled
Ahead of Cyclone Nivar's landfall on the eastern coast of the Indian peninsula, operations at the Chennai airport have been suspended from 7 pm Wednesday till 7 am the next day. The cyclonic storm, which has now intensified to "very severe," is likely to cross the coasts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry past Wednesday midnight or early Thursday. Here are more details.
As per the India Meteorological Department's (IMD) evening bulletin, Cyclone Nivar lay centered near latitude 11.2°N and longitude 81.0°E as of 2:30 pm on Wednesday. The coordinates correspond to about 90 km east-southeast of Cuddalore, about 150 km east southeast of Puducherry, and 220 km south southeast of Chennai. The cyclone is very likely to move northwestwards, the bulletin stated.
According to the IMD, Cyclone Nivar will cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry on Wednesday night or early Thursday as a very severe cyclonic storm. The storm will have wind speeds of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph. National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) Director-General SN Pradhan said it may hit the coast after 2 am on Thursday.
According to IMD, fairly widespread to widespread rainfall/thunderstorm activity is very likely over coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Karaikal, south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema on Wednesday and Thursday; and southeast Telangana on Thursday. Isolated extremely heavy rainfall activity is also very likely over coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Andhra Pradesh's Nellore and Chittoor districts on Wednesday.
Isolated extremely heavy rainfall is also very likely over Ranipet, Tiruvannamalai, Tirupattur, Vellore districts of Tamil Nadu; Chittoor, Kurnool, Prakasam and Cuddappa districts of Andhra Pradesh; and adjoining southeast Telangana on Thursday, the IMD said.
The Airports Authority of India (AAI) said the Chennai airport has suspended operations from 7 pm Wednesday till 7 am Thursday in light of the cyclone. "All domestic and international passengers traveling from and to the Chennai airport may contact respective airlines for any change in flight schedule," the AAI said. Over a dozen scheduled trains on Wednesday and Thursday have also been canceled.
"For the trains fully canceled by Railways in view of Cyclone NIVAR, a full refund of fare will be granted on ticket cancellations. The time limit for availing refunds has also been extended to six months from the date of journey," the Southern Railway said.
Tamil Nadu has declared Thursday a public holiday in 16 districts—Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Thiruvannamalai, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram, Chennai, Chengalpattu, Thiruvallur, Ariyalur, Perambalur, Kallakurichi, Villupuram, Tirupattur, Vellore, Ranipet, and Nagapattinam. All government offices, including local bodies, government undertakings, corporations, boards, banks, financial institutions, etc., will also remain closed on the day. Thursday is also a public holiday in Puducherry and Karaikal, but Saturday would be working instead.
Over one lakh people across Tamil Nadu and over 1,000 people in Puducherry have been evacuated, Pradhan said. 1,200 NDRF personnel have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and neighboring Andhra Pradesh, he said. 12 teams are in Tamil Nadu, seven in Andhra Pradesh, and three in Puducherry. 20 other teams will be on standby in Odisha's Cuttack, Andhra's Vijaywada, and Kerala's Thrissur.