By Elton Gomes
The deep depression over the Bay of Bengal, on Sunday, intensified into a cyclone named Gaja. Officials from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) have predicted that north Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to get moderate to heavy rain on November 14 and 15 as a result of cyclone Gaja.
According to the latest IMD bulletin, issued at 9:30 pm on Monday, the cyclone lies 760 kilometres east-southeast of Chennai and 830 kilometres east-northeast of Nagappattinam. It is likely to intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” in the next 24 hours, maintain its intensity during the subsequent 24 hours, and is then likely to weaken gradually by 15 November.
On 14 November, heavy rain is likely at isolated places over coastal Andhra Pradesh. Gale winds with speed of upto 100 kilometres per hour are expected along North Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts on 14 November night. “Heavy to very heavy rain at a few places with extremely heavy rain at isolated places likely over north Tamilnadu & Puducherry, and heavy rain at isolated places Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and Kerala [sic]” is expected on 15 November according to the IMD bulletin.
The IMD predicted that before making a landfall, the cyclone could weaken gradually while crossing the coasts of north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh on the morning of November 15.
13 districts in Tamil Nadu on high alert
At least 32 revenue districts under 13 districts in Tamil Nadu have been put on high alert, with Gaja expected to hit the state on November 15, as reported by the New Indian Express.
In addition, a cyclone alert has been issued for the coastal areas of north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, and southern Andhra Pradesh.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Disaster Management R.B. Udayakumar said, “We have received information that a deep depression [over southeast Bay of Bengal] would intensify into a cyclone and have put 13 districts, mainly those along the coast, on high alert,” the New Indian Express reported.
“We are giving priority to districts like Chennai and Kancheepuram by alerting the district administrations, which have taken necessary preventive measures,” Udayakumar added.
Which areas will be affected?
According to private weather forecaster Skymet, many districts of Tamil Nadu and southern Karnataka could continue to get good rainfall, though the intensity of rainfall could decrease by November 16.
According to recent reports on Monday, cyclone Gaja has started shifting track, and is headed towards the Tamil Nadu coast. The IMD has located the cyclone to 730 kilometres eastnorth-east of Chennai and 820 kilometres eastnorth-east of Nagapattinam, respectively, to the North and South along the Tamil Nadu coast.
What do we know about Gaja’s landfall?
The US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre has suggested that Gaja’s landfall could occur towards the south of Chennai and Puducherry. The US Centre further indicated that Gaja could make Nagapattinam and its neighbourhood the target area.
Other weather models, including the Canadian Meteorological Centre, the Global Forecasts System of the US National Centres for Environmental Prediction, the Japanese Meteorological Agency, and the UK Met Centre, observe the cyclone moving either south of Chennai or deeper south.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts seems to have agreed that Gaja could make its landfall over an area in south Tamil Nadu.
What has the IMD said?
The IMD said that cyclone Gaja was approaching coastal Tamil Nadu and east-southeast of Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.
All fishing operations have been suspended along the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu till November 15.
The IMD predicted that cyclone Gaja could move towards coasts of northern Tamil Nadu and southern Andhra Pradesh by Tuesday.
What measures has the Tamil Nadu government taken?
Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami has urged the administration to remain vigilant. Tamil Nadu Minister for Disaster Management R.B. Udayakumar on Sunday said that four high-level meetings to discuss preventive measures had already been held.
Tamil Nadu’s revenue administration director, Satyagopal Rao, asserted that there was no need for concern as the government has made necessary arrangements.
“People need not worry about the Gaja cyclone. We have informed district administrations to issue advisories to the public to avert any calamity. We have also sent information to the fishermen, who are in the mid-sea urging them to return to shores,” Rao told the Hindustan Times.
Furthermore, Tamil Nadu’s chief secretary Girija Vaidyanathan was to reportedly chair a meeting at the state secretariat to discuss measures in dealing with the cyclone.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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