TN, Puducherry brace for Cyclone Gaja

TN, Puducherry brace for Cyclone Gaja

A fishermen parks his boat at fishing harbor as a part of precautionary measures in view of cyclonic storm ‘Gaja’, in Chennai, on Wednesday. PTI

Tamil Nadu and Puducherry braced for Cyclone ‘Gaja’ which will make its landfall between Pamban in Rameswaram island and Cuddalore on Thursday evening even as authorities asked people living in low-lying areas in seven districts to move to safety.

Schools and colleges in Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Tiruvarur, Ramanathapuram, Pudukkottai and Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal in Puducherry will be closed on Thursday as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast heavy to heavy rainfall in many areas in these districts.

The cyclone, which was moving at a speed of 12 kmph at 2.30 pm on Wednesday, is most likely to move west-south westwards and intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm during the early hours of Thursday.

“While moving west-south westwards further, it is likely to weaken gradually on November 15, and cross Tamil Nadu coast between Pamban and Cuddalore during November 15 evening as a cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 80-90 gusting to 100 kmph,” the IMD said in its latest update.

Authorities in the aforesaid seven districts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry made elaborate arrangements to house people once they are evacuated from their respective homes.

Most of the districts had opened relief centres by Wednesday evening and people are expected to trickle in by Thursday morning.

Village administrative officials and those belonging to revenue department used public address system to ask people living in low-lying areas to be prepared to move to safety, if necessary.

The government also asked people not to panic and to remain indoors during the cyclone's landfall, it also advised them to keep their mobile phones in full charge.

Since the cyclone is expected to make its landfall between Pamban and Cuddalore, Southern Railways partially cancelled service to the island. All trains with destination will stop at Manamadurai, it announced.

The IMD warned that a storm surge of height of about 1 meter above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of Nagapattinam, Thanjavur, Pudukkottai and Ramanathapuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Karaikal district of Puducherry at the time of landfall.

Major damage to thatched huts/houses, damage to power and communication lines, major damage to kutcha and minor damage to pucca roads, breaking of tree branches, uprooting of large avenue trees and damage to paddy crops, banana, papaya trees and orchards is expected when the cyclone makes its landfall.

Tamil Nadu has been witnessing landfall of cyclones almost every year.

Cyclone Vardah hit Chennai city in in 2016 and in 2017 Cyclone Ockhi left a trail of destruction in Kanniyakumari district and parts of Kerala.