12-14 DEC 2016 STORM VARDAH CHENNAI TN

Cyclone Vardah: Severe cyclone to weaken over next six hours

VINSON KURIAN/PTI

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  • The image taken from INSAT 3D at 2 pm shows cyclone Vardah making landfall near north of Chennai. Photo Credit: IMD
    The image taken from INSAT 3D at 2 pm shows cyclone Vardah making landfall near north of Chennai. Photo Credit: IMD
  • Vardah' has retained its strength and intensity as a destructive storm, beating forecasts for a prospective weakening. It was located just 61 km east-northeast of Chennai at 10.30 am and there is no sign of its weakening yet.
    Vardah’ has retained its strength and intensity as a destructive storm, beating forecasts for a prospective weakening. It was located just 61 km east-northeast of Chennai at 10.30 am and there is no sign of its weakening yet.
  • An uprooted tree fell on a car at College Road in Chennai on Monday. | Photo Credit: Dinesh Krishnan
    An uprooted tree fell on a car at College Road in Chennai on Monday. | Photo Credit: Dinesh Krishnan
  • Under its impact, rains started last night in the northern districts of Chennai. File Photo
    Under its impact, rains started last night in the northern districts of Chennai. File Photo
  • A tree was uprooted at Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai on Monday as wind was gusting over 100 kmph due to cyclone Varda. - Photo credit: R. Ragu
    A tree was uprooted at Radhakrishnan Salai in Chennai on Monday as wind was gusting over 100 kmph due to cyclone Varda. – Photo credit: R. Ragu

Power supply suspended, 8,000 people from low-lying areas safely evacuated to 95 relief shelters

India Met Department (IMD) has confirmed that very severe cyclone ‘Vardah’ is crossing coast near Chennai and the landfall process will be completed during next two hours.

‘Vardah’ has subjected the coast to its full fury, which has been next only to the class-topping super cyclone on the five-step Saffir-Simpson scale of storm intensity.

‘Eye’ crosses

Satellite pictures indicated that the ‘eye’ of the storm may have crossed right over Chennai and immediate neighbourhood with intense rain bands strewn across over hundreds of kilomteres.

They also showed that 75-80 per cent of the clouding associated with the massive storm has penetrated into land around Chennai and adjoining North Tamil Nadu and South Andhra Pradesh.

The clouds have spread out to as far away as Ramanathapuram, Madurai, Dindigul, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, Satyamangalam, Mysuru, Bengaluru, Tumakuru, Anantapur, Bellari, Kurnool, Mahbubnagar, Hyderabad, Warangal, Jagdalpur, Sonepur and Phulbani.

Fresh rain?

These covered the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Odisha. According to several weather models, the weakened ‘Vardah’ will move west across Tamil Nadu and Karnataka before stepping out into the Arabian Sea.

It will cause varying amounts of rainfall over the parched interiors of these states which have faced drought-like conditions in the wake of failure of the ongoing North-East monsoon.

Some of them have indicated the possibility of a round of fresh rainfall later this week mainly for the southern parts of Tamil Nadu and adjoining Sri Lanka as an ‘easterly wave,’ an elongated area of low-pressure not amounting to storm strength, approaches the coast.

Two persons were killed as heavy rains accompanied by high velocity winds today pounded the city and coastal districts of north Tamil Nadu due to severe cyclonic storm “Vardah” which began making landfall near here, uprooting hundreds of trees, disrupting land and air transport and throwing normal life out of gear.

Power supply hit

Power supply was suspended in many parts of these regions as a precautionary measure. About 8,000 people from low-lying areas in north Chennai, Pazhaverkadu in Tiruvallur district and villages off Mamallapuram, in Kanchipuram district were safely evacuated to 95 relief shelters, officials said.

Flight operations at the airport here have been suspended till 5 pm.

Long distance buses have been stalled and traffic came to a grinding halt in most areas with uprooted trees and electric poles blocking the roads.

Train services suspended

All suburban train services have also been suspended.

Southern Railway has announced cancellation of all 17 trains originating from Chennai central, as well as Egmore.

State Principal Secretary (Revenue Administration) K Satyagopal said: “human loss is two”, without elaborating.

In a statement, he said 260 trees and 37 electric poles had fallen and 190 tress removed. As many 224 roads were blocked and 24 huts damaged.

Schools closed

The Tamil Nadu government had declared holiday for educational institutions in Chennai, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur, besides coastal taluks of Villupuram.

Rail and flight services here have been affected, officials said.

Around 25 incoming flights, including those from international destinations, were diverted to the nearby Hyderabad and Bangalore airports due to strong winds and poor visibility, airport officials said.

Nearly 25 outbound flights were delayed, officials said, adding that there was no inundation of the runway.

An emergency management team was on standby to meet any eventuality, they said.

The Southern Railways, meanwhile, has announced suspension of services on the Chennai Beach and Velacherry MRTS route.

Similarly, suburban rail services on the MMC-Gummidipoondi line were also suspended until further notice. Some passenger trains coming to Chennai and leaving the city were also diverted.

NDRF teams deployed

Over 15 teams of NDRF have been deployed in various coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh which are on high alert due to the approaching cyclonic storm.

The armed forces have been asked to be on standby with the army, navy and air force prepared to be deployed anytime as and when required.

People in low-lying areas have been asked to move to safer zones.

Puducherry also experienced intermittent drizzle from early morning. The state government took precautionary steps to prevent tourists and other people from going close to the sea shore.

Police personnel were deployed on the entire two-and-a-half kilometre stretch of beach road and barricades were also put on all roads close to the sea shore. All schools and colleges are closed today.

National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) chief R K Pachnanda said while eight teams are ready in various areas of Tamil Nadu, seven are in Andhra Pradesh, apart from few others in nearby locations.

“Some more teams are on alert in Arrakonam and Guntur and they can be transported immediately in case they are required.

We are in constant touch with the two state governments, the Indian Meteorological Department and other relief agencies,” the NDRF Director General told PTI.

Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh are also expected to affected.

Over 9,400 people in seven mandals along the Bay of Bengal coast in Nellore were evacuated to relief camps this morning amid heavy rains.

Eight fishermen belonging to Tamil Nadu were rescued from the sea near the Sriharikota High Altitude Range while search was on for ten more persons.

The holy Tirumala Hills have been receiving rainfall since last night, causing some hardship to devotees visiting the shrine of Lord Venkateswara.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu reviewed the situation through teleconference and asked the state agencies to remain on high alert to prevent loss of lives, officials said.

Trains to various destinations, including Bangalore, Hyderabad, Madurai, Coimbaore were all cancelled, Southern Railway said.

At Kalpakkam, all safety measures have been taken in view of the atomic energy centre there, they said.

Over 15 teams of NDRF have been deployed in various coastal regions of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, where over 9,400 people living along the Bay of Bengal coast were evacuated to relief camps amid heavy rains.

Seven army columns comprising around 70-80 personnel each are on standby and one has already been requisitioned in in Tiruvallur.

Vardah is expected to later move towards Andhra Pradesh.

In Chennai, only a minuscule number of vehicles plied as heavy winds and rains posed serious obstacles to movement.

In Chennai, traffic on arterial GST Road was affected with some trees falling near the Officers Training Academy point at St Thomas Mount.

A tree fell on a car at Ekkatuthangal near Metro Railway Station. Similarly, instances of trees getting uprooted were reported in many areas in all three coastal districts, even as Corporation workers in Chennai and municipal staffers in other districts were working to clear them amidst heavy rain and gusty winds.

Vehicular movement on the Ashok Pillar-Kodambakkam main road was affected with fallen tree branches.

Heavy winds also snapped electricity wires, flung barricades put up for traffic regulation in several points of the city, including Kathipara.

Meanwhile, the Tamil Nadu government said all measures are in place to tackle Vardah with Chief Minister O Panneerselvam holding a high-level meeting of top officials at the Secretariat.

The state government in an official release asked residents of Chennai to not venture out of their homes till about 4 pm when the cyclone will cross the coast.

Milk supply will not be affected tomorrow: AAVIN

Milk supply to cyclone Vardah-hit people in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts was not affected today and will be normal tomorrow, state-run Tamil Nadu Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation Ltd said.

The Federation, popularly known as AAVIN, said it’s dairy farms in Madhavaram, Ambattur and Sholinganallur are operating with generators and milk will be supplied to its outlets and to residences across the city tomorrow as usual.

It asked customers who do not receive milk to call toll free number 18004253300.

(This article was published on December 12, 2016)
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