Cyclone Tauktae: Gujarat, Maha all set to face fury, PM reviews preparations, heavy rain lashes Kerala

The India Meteorological Department had said that the depression in the Arabian Sea is likely to intensify into a “very severe cyclonic storm” on May 17 and cross the Gujarat coast a day later

Representative Image
Representative Image

NH Web Desk

Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired a meeting on Saturday to review preparations to deal with impending Cyclone Tauktae, government sources said.

Top officers from across government departments, including the National Disaster Management Authority attended the meeting, they said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had said on Friday that the depression in the Arabian Sea is likely to intensify into a "very severe cyclonic storm" on May 17 and cross the Gujarat coast a day later,

The weather condition has intensified into a deep depression. It is very likely to further intensify into cyclonic storm 'Tauktae' by Saturday morning and very likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm by Saturday night, it had said.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has earmarked 53 teams to tackle possible after effects of Cyclone 'Tauktae' that is developing in the Arabian Sea.

Six states- Kerala, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Goa are likely to witness the cyclone which is going to intensify in next six hours as the India Meteorological Department said.

The government machinery in Goa has put in place necessary measures to tackle the situation in view of the warning about cyclone Tauktae, officials said on Saturday.

As per the India Meteorological Department's (IMD) prediction, Konkan and Goa are expected to receive heavy to very heavy rainfall on May 15 and 16 as the weather condition is very likely to intensify into cyclonic storm Tauktae.

The Goa Fire and Emergency Services said it has kept its personnel ready to tackle the situation.

"We have kept our force ready to face any kind of eventualities arising out of the cyclone," its director Ashok Menon was quoted as saying by the news agency PTI.

The Emergency Services, with its force of 800 personnel, have taken proactive steps in this regard, he said.

"The cyclonic winds and rains that lashed the state on Friday did not cause much damage," Menon added.

The disaster management response forces of the state's two districts - South Goa and North Goa - led by the respective collectors, held meetings on Friday to check the preparedness.

According to officials, as curfew is in place in the state till May 24 due to coronavirus situation, the impact of cyclone is likely to be less severe.

State Ports Minister Michael Lobo said the entire beach belt in this tourist state is currently empty.

"Due to the curfew, all the restaurants and regular activities in the coastal belt are shut. People are also not allowed to move on the beaches. This will help in ensure that the impact of the cyclone remains minimal," he said.

Sanguem tehsil in South Goa witnessed several incidents of tree falling due to cyclonic winds on Friday.

Sanguem MLA Prasad Gaonkar said he has been personally requesting people not to venture out during the weekend in view of the cyclone warning.

"I have requested people to stay indoors and be safe from the cyclone," he said.

As the Cyclone Tauktae whirls towards the Gujarat coast, Maharashtra is preparing to grapple its impact on the coastal Konkan and some interiors which are likely to be affected with heavy rains and gusty winds, officials said on Saturday.

The entire coastal belt comprising Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg besides Mumbai is in a state of high alert with all rescue and relief agencies in full preparedness to tackle any eventualities.

The NDRF has deployed 3 teams in Mumbai, 15 in Pune and one in Goa with Cyclone Tauktae now said to be in the Arabian Sea off north Karnataka-south Maharashtra coasts.

However, officials are optimistic that Maharashtra may escape the fury of the cyclone as it is likely to pass around 250 kms in the Arabian Sea, moving at an average speed of 7 kms/hr.

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has reviewed the situation and asked the people and the government machinery to be vigilant, rekindling memories of the devastating Cyclone Nisarga that pounded Raigad-Ratnagiri in June 2020, at the height of the pandemic lockdown.

"In a preparatory meeting regarding Cyclone Tauktae on Friday night, Thackeray has instructed all Divisional Commissioners and district Collectors to be vigilant and well-equipped in coastal areas, especially in Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg," informed an official of the CMO.

Minister for Higher & Technical Education Uday Samant, who hails from Konkan said that the authorities are in complete readiness to handle any eventuality over the next few days.

"We have also made special arrangements for hospitals and Covid-19 care centres, arranged backup generators for oxygen plants, fleets of ambulances deployed in case patients need to be evacuated and other requirements," Samant said.

Head of SID at the Climate Research and Services Pune, K. S. Hosalikar said that the latest satellite images indiciate the system is getting matured and cloud bands are now on coastal north Karnataka, Goa and south Maharashtra also.

Since past three days, a low pressure area has been rapidly developing over the Lakshadweep Isles and the Arabian Sea, with a powerful Cyclone Tauktae expected to hit the states on the west-coast of India, the IMD said.

The IMD has already put Mumbai and Thane under a Yellow Alert, signifying isolated heavy rains accompanied by strong winds, while an Orange Alert and Red Alert has been issued for several districts of Gujarat and Kerala.

The Cyclone Tauktae will intensify into a full-fledged cyclonic storm on Sunday, causing heavy rains accompanied by gusty winds in southern and western coastal parts of the country, and it is expected to lash Gujarat coast by morning of May 18.

The storm has already resulted in rainfall in large areas in Lakshadweep Isles, Kerala, parts of Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri and Palghar, with predictions of heavy to very heavy spells in some places and extremely heavy rains in isolated places till Sunday.

In Kerala, more heavy to very heavy rains are forecast for Saturday and heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on Sunday and Monday, according to the IMD.

Scores of houses were damaged, trees uprooted and power supply disrupted for hours across Kerala as incessant rains and strong winds continue to lash the state on Saturday even as severe sea incursion disrupted normal life in the coastal areas.

According to the latest update of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), a red alert, indicating the possibility of extremely heavy rains, was sounded in five northern districts of Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod.

Thunderstorm with moderate rainfall and gusty winds speed reaching 40 Kmph, is likely at one or two places in Alappuzha, Kottayam, Idukki, Ernakulam, Thrissur, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod districts, it added.

High range and coastal areas in the central and northern districts mainly bore the brunt of the nature's fury in the last 24 hours.

As the water level in major rivers like Meenachil, Achankovil and Manimala was rising steadily, authorities cautioned people living on its banks to be vigilant.

The shutters of the Kallarkutty, Malankara and Bhoothathankettu dams in hill district Idukki were opened and that of the Maniyar in Pathanamthitta was raised as a precautionary measure following high inflow in the catchment area.

Trees were widely uprooted and fell upon houses and vehicles, causing rampant destruction across the state.

Uprooted trees also caused traffic blocks in several places while the movement in Munnar-Vattavada road in Idukki was disrupted for some time.

NDRF personnel were trying to remove trees and clear the paths, authorities said.

Heavy rains and gusty winds, accompanied by extensive sea incursion, continued to cause widespread destruction in the coastal hamlets of Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam, Thrissur and Malappuram districts.

Valiyathura pier, one of the oldest sea bridges in the state located here, developed a crack in the strong winds which hit the shores since last night.

A portion of the over 200 metre-long structure, which offers a breath-taking view of the sea, seemed tilted to a side in the morning, locals said.

The entrance of the bridge was blocked and placed under police security considering the safety of people.

Besides Chellanam in Ernakulam district, rough sea and high tidal waves wreaked havoc in Kaipamangalam, Chavakkad and Kodungallur in Thrissur, Pallithura in Thiruvananthapuram, Thrikkannapuzha in Alappuzha and Beypore and Koyilandy in Kozhikode districts.

A large number of people were shifted to relief camps in various districts, arranged in adherence to COVID protocols.

Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard Ship Vikram has rescued three fishermen from a small fishing boat off northern Kannur district on Friday night.

Local fishing boats and MEW boats were not able to go out for rescue, an ICG statement said.

The cyclone would trigger heavy rains in Mumbai, coastal Southern Konkan region's Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, parts of Goa and Gujarat over the next three days when it reaches the Gujarat coast on Tuesday.

Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg are likely to witness very heavy rains on Sunday and Monday, while Mumbai, Thane, Raigad will be clobbered with very heavy downpour on Monday, besides thunderstorms likely to hit Satara, Kolhapur, parts of the Western Ghats and Pune over Sunday and Monday.

Coastal Maharashtra especially south Konkan could be lashed by squalls reaching speeds of upto 60 kmph on Saturday, and increasing up to 80 kmph on Maharashtra-Goa coasts on Sunday (May 16), besides very rough seas.

Fishermen already out in the Arabian Sea have been advised to return and others are warned not to venture into the sea from May 14-18.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday appealed to his party workers to provide all possible assistance to those in need in view of cyclone Tauktae alert issued in Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka.

"Cyclone alert has been issued in Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Karnataka. Cyclone Tauktae is already causing heavy rains in many areas. I appeal to Congress workers to provide all possible assistance to those in need. Please stay safe," he tweeted.

His remarks came after the Central Water Commission issued an 'orange bulletin' for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, saying severe flood is expected due to cyclonic storm, Tauktae.

In a tweet, the commission said water levels were likely to reach 'danger' and highest flood levels in both the coastal states.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is also holding a meeting to review preparations against the cyclone.

with inputs from agencies

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