Cyclone Nivar to hit TN, Puducherry tonight; rains lash Chennai
Cyclone Nivar, which has intensified into a severe cyclonic storm, is approaching Tamil Nadu and Puducherry and is expected to hit the southeast coast by midnight. Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal in Puducherry will be hit, reports said. Ahead of the landfall, heavy rains drenched Tamil Nadu's capital Chennai, forcing people to remain indoors. Here are more details.
Cyclone will cross Tami Nadu and Puducherry later today
By last night, the cyclone was located 380 km southeast of Chennai and was 320 km southeast of Puducherry. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) updated that the cyclone is 290 km east-southeast of Cuddalore and will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm in the next 12 hours. It will cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday.
Chennai received record rainfall since yesterday
The cyclone, which was birthed in the Bay of Bengal, will be accompanied by winds, having a speed of 120-130 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph. Earlier today, IMD revealed that Chennai/Meenabakkam received very heavy rainfall — 120 mm — between 8:30 am yesterday and 5:30 am today. Neighboring Andhra Pradesh is also expected to be lashed by heavy rains when the cyclone moves inland.
Statewide holiday in Tamil Nadu today, bus services canceled
Anticipating huge damage, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami declared a statewide public holiday on Wednesday. The administration in Puducherry made a similar announcement. Moreover, inter and intra-district bus services were suspended in seven Tamil Nadu districts, namely Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tanjavur, Tiruvarur, Villupuram, Chengalpattu, and Pudukottai, from Tuesday 1 pm. In a few districts, train services were canceled fully or partially.
IndiGo canceled 49 flights
Unsurprisingly, flight operations were also hit, with IndiGo canceling 49 flights to or from the South, primarily Chennai, today. "We will monitor the situation and decide on the further course of action for November 26. We are accommodating passengers on next available flights at no additional charges, waiving off cancellation fee and refunding full ticket amount," IndiGo said in a statement yesterday.
Tamil Nadu is also watching four reservoirs for water levels
Learning from the terrible 2015 flood experience, Tamil Nadu is also closely watching the water levels at four reservoirs — Poondi, Cholavaram, Red Hills, and Chembarambakkam. Revenue Minister RB Udhayakumar, who is also the chief of the state Disaster Management Department, said, "We are ensuring clear channels for smooth flow of water and safe storage in large lakes."
Disaster relief in coronavirus times: Camps doubled, mandatory screening
Though cyclones hitting the state are not unprecedented, the authorities are facing a dual challenge due to the coronavirus pandemic. Phanindra Reddy, principal secretary and commissioner of the state's disaster management and mitigation department, said the number of relief centers has been doubled to 8,813 to give shelter to nearly 2.5 lakh people. He informed that people will be screened for COVID-19 symptoms at camps.
1,200 NDRF personnel deployed, teams kept on standby
NDRF boss SN Pradhan informed that nearly 1,200 personnel have been sent to Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and Andhra Pradesh. 12 teams are in Tamil Nadu, seven in Andhra, and three were deployed in Puducherry. Further, a total of 20 teams have been put on standby in Odisha, Andhra, and Kerala. The Indian Navy is also closely monitoring the movement of Cyclone Nivar.