Photo: HT
Photo: HT

IMD scales up warning as Fani gains strength

  • IMD says the cyclone will intensify into a ‘very severe’ storm over the next 24 hours
  • Strong winds are expected to whip coastal areas in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh from Wednesday evening

NEW DELHI : The weather department has scaled up its warning for coastal Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha as Cyclone Fani continues to gain strength as it moves in the north-west direction along the eastern coast.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), which has been tracking the storm’s path since it was formed over the Indian Ocean and south-east Bay of Bengal last week, said the cyclone will intensify into a “very severe" storm over the next 24 hours. After Thursday, it would begin to re-curve north northeastwards towards the Odisha coast, IMD added.

“It is part of the normal cyclone season. But, cyclones formed during this time of the year have a long life cycle, longer trajectory and a re-curvature. So, they would move towards the coast and then dissipate away from it. Normal cyclone forming in Bay of Bengal would remain for 4-5 days, this one would extend to 8-10 days due to re-curvature," said K.J. Ramesh, director general of meteorology, IMD.

Residents have been warned to take safety measures as strong winds of 160-170kmph gusting to 185kmph are expected to whip coastal areas in north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh from Wednesday evening when the wind gusts would be the strongest, along with rainfall.The National Disaster Response Force and the coast guard have been put on high alert, the home ministry said in a statement, adding that it is in touch with the concerned states and central agencies.

Fishermen have been warned not to venture into the sea and those at sea have been asked to return.

“We are on continuous watch and updating the forecast every few hours," Ramesh said. A meeting of the National Crisis Management Committee was also called to review the arrangements with state governments and central ministries.

The Indian Ocean has been warming rapidly over the decades, triggering concerns of severe cyclonic storms.

After Cyclone Ockhi, the most intense cyclone in the Arabian Sea in recent years, pummelled the southern coast in December 2017, the IMD has modified its standard operating procedure during cyclone forecasts. It began to issue intensity forecasts from depression stage against the former practice of deep depression stage. Last year, too, the eastern coast was ravaged by cyclone Daye, very severe cyclone Titli, cyclone Gaja and severe cyclone Phethai.

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