Heavy to very heavy rains drenched this metropolis and other coastal districts of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday as the state and neighbouring UT of Puducherry braced for a very severe cyclonic storm 'Nivar' which is expected to pack winds with a speed of 120-130 km per hour gusting to 145 km per hour.
Cyclone Nivar, which at 8.30 pm on Tuesday lay 350 km east-south-east of Puducherry and 410 km east-south-east of Chennai, is expected to result in severe damages across Northern Tamil Nadu while making landfall around Puducherry.
“It is very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the next six hours and into a very severe cyclonic storm during subsequent 12 hours. It is very likely to cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry during November 25 late evening,” the IMD said in its bulletin released at 10 pm on Tuesday.
The IMD also forecast heavy to very heavy rains for the next two days in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and Chengalpattu districts and warned of flooding, disruption of electricity and water services, possible damage to roads, and some areas getting inundated. Rains will continue across coastal Tamil Nadu.
Rains that began on Monday night in and around Chennai intensified on Tuesday afternoon, leading to waterlogging in arterial roads and inundation of low-lying areas.
As a precautionary measure, the governments of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry announced public holiday on Wednesday to ensure that people stay indoors, while Southern Railways cancelled all trains originating from Chennai to the Cauvery delta region and southern districts and vice-versa. Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments also mounted massive efforts to minimise damage due to Cyclone Nivar by keeping ready 3,344 and 80 relief centres respectively.
Public transport remains suspended in Pudukkottai, Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Cuddalore, Villupuram, and Chengalpattu districts, and in Puducherry, and Karaikal till further orders, while sub-urban trains in Chennai will not run beyond 10 am on Wednesday.
The Union Territory of Puducherry, whose capital is expected to be the landfall area, will go under curfew from 9 pm on Tuesday to 6 am on Thursday during which shops and commercial establishments will remain closed.
Apart from the state governments' response teams, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has pre-positioned 12 teams in Tamil Nadu and three in Puducherry, while the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard are also on standby to assist Tamil Nadu and Puducherry in relief operations.
With power supply likely to be snapped during the landfall time, the government asked hospitals to ensure that their generators are in working condition and that they have enough fuel in reserve. Tamil Nadu government has kept 465 ambulances ready in the seven districts while setting up control rooms set up in all 36 revenue districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke to Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry – Edappadi K Palaniswami, and V Narayanasamy – on Tuesday morning and assured all possible help from the Centre.
2011: Cyclone Thane, resulting in death of 45 people
2012: Cyclone Neelam, affecting 20 districts of Tamil Nadu
2016: Cyclone Vardah making landfall in Chennai, resulting in loss of over Rs 1,000 crore
2018: Cyclone Gaja, leaving a trail of destruction across the fertile Cauvery Delta region, and killing 60 persons