Chennai: More than one lakh people living in low lying areas across Tamil Nadu were evacuated and moved to 1,000 relief camps on Wednesday ahead of the landfall of Cyclone Nivar. The cyclone, in the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, was expected to make the landfall around midnight. Teams from the Army, Navy, Indian Coast Guard, National Disaster Rescue Force were on standby for any emergencies. So were the police, Fire and Rescue Services, Electricity Department and other agencies.
The Chennai airport suspended operations of all flights between 7 pm Wednesday to 7 am Thursday as a precautionary measure. The Southern Railway cancelled, either full or partially, over two dozen trains in view of the forecast of heavy rains and winds along the routes. In Chennai, the police quickly moved in on Wednesday afternoon to close access for vehicles in major arterial roads along the coastline. The Kamarajar Salai, an arterial road where the Fort St George, the seat of power in Tamil Nadu is located, was among those closed to the public as it winds through the Marina, the world’s second longest beach.
With memories still fresh of the December 2015 floods that left Chennai marooned for days, Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami himself inspected the release of water from the Chembarambakkam lake, which is one of the drinking water sources for the capital city. The shutters of the Chembarambakkam reservoir were opened after five years to release the surplus water.
A bulletin from the Indian Meteorological Department said the several cyclonic storm Nivar over southwest Bay of Bengal moved west-northwestwards with a speed of 07 kmph during past six hours and lay centred at 0530 hrs IST of 25th November, 2020 over southwest Bay of Bengal near latitude 10.4°N and longitude 82.0°E, about 290 km east-southeast of Cuddalore, about 300 km east southeast of Puducherry and 350 km south southeast of Chennai.
“It is very likely to intensify further into a very severe cyclonic storm during the next 12 hours. It is very likely to move northwestwards and cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry during mid-night of 25th and early hours of 26th November 2020 as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kmph gusting to 145 kmph,” the bulletin said.
Reports late in the evening suggested that the cyclone may make its landfall between Mamallapuram and Puducherry, instead of Karaikal.