Western and southern India is bracing for a cyclonic storm, with two states having issued flood alerts, even as others deploy officials and take precautionary measures. On Friday night, the India Meteorological Department had informed that the low-pressure area over the Arabian Sea near Lakshwadeep had intensified into a deep depression. Over the next 24 hours Cyclone Tauktae is slated to intensify into a 'Very Severe Cyclonic Storm'.
National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) officials had assured on Friday that they were well prepared for cyclone Tauktae and 53 teams had been committed, 24 teams pre-deployed, and 29 teams were on standby-ready for the 5 most vulnerable states-- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Teams from other parts of the country have also left for the western coastal states.
The IMD had also predicted that the cyclone would hit the Gujarat coast by May 18 morning. Keeping the situation in mind, several states have announced precautionary measures. In Maharashtra for example, COVID-19 vaccination efforts have been put on hold for the next two days. Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar had also annouced that important throughfares such as the Bandra-Worli sea link would remain closed.
"Due to the adverse weather conditions expected over the Arabian Sea, flights to and from Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram, Kochi, Bengaluru, Mumbai, Pune, Goa and Ahmedabad are likely to be imapcted till May 17, 2021," read a statement from Vistara airlines. IndiGo also issued a travel advisory stating that flights to and from Kerala's Kannur had been impacted.
Visuals show that Kerala and Tamil Nadu have already received heavy rainfall, leading to flooding in some areas. The Central Water Commission on Saturday issued an 'orange bulletin' for Kerala and Tamil Nadu, predicting a severe flood situation in the two states, with water levels likely to reach 'danger' and highest flood level. Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had said that five districts in Kerala had been put under red alert by the IMD on Friday- Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Ernakulam.
The IMD noted that Sea conditions will be rough over the Arabian Sea and areas along the coast have been warned to enforce a total suspension of fishing operations. The met department has also recommended evacuation for some areas, and predicts damage to houses and property in Gujarat and other areas.
(With inputs from agencies)