TN coastal districts on high alert as Gaja inches closer

Rain in Chennai this morning.

Chennai: After five days of travel, severe cyclonic storm Gaja will be making a landfall near Nagapattinam tonight. As the Met department said wind speeds will go up to 100 kmph, it is being considered category one cyclone. It can cause heavy rain, floods, mudslides, uprooting of trees and damage to public infrastructure in the area of landfall.

According to Met officials, Chennai will not be affected by the cyclone but receive moderate rainfall.

Speaking to reporters this morning, Regional Meteorological Department scientist N Puviarasan said, “As of now, cyclonic storm Gaja lay centered around 290 km east-northeast of Nagapattinam and southeast of Chennai and is moving at the increased speed of 25 kmph. It will cross the coast between Cuddalore and Pamban around Nagapattinam this evening / night with a wind speed of 80-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph.”

A Met official said, “In wake of this, isolated, extremely heavy rain is likely to occur over Cuddalore, Nagapattinam, Karaikal, Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, Pudukottai and Ramanathapuram districts today, and scattered heavy to very heavy rain over coastal Tamilnadu and Puducherry. There will also be scattered heavy to very heavy rain over Tamilnadu and Puducherry tomorrow. On 17 and 18 November as well, there will be heavy rain at isolated places over Tamilnadu and Puducherry.”

Chennai experienced a short but intense spell of rain this morning causing traffic jams. Many city streets got flooded posing hardship to motorists. Due to the effect of the cyclone, sea erosion happened near Ennore at Chinna Kuppam and Periya Kuppam.

As sea conditions worsened near the city, 10 Kasimedu fishermen couldn’t reach home and are now stationed at Andhra Pradesh Krishnapatnam port.

In the wake of the cyclone, Southern Railway has cancelled train Nos. 16176 and 16186 between Chennai Egmore and Karaikal / Velankanni today. Train No. 16180 between Chennai Egmore and Mannargudi has also been cancelled today.

Anna University has postponed all engineering exams that were to be held today, to 22 November, while schools have declared holiday in many districts.

Power supply is expected to be cut tonight during the landfall of the cyclone.

Distant warning signal No. 2 with section signal No. 2 and 4 have been hoisted at Chennai, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam ports and distant warning signal No. 2 has been hoisted at Ennore, Kattupally, Puducherry, Pamban, Thoothukudi and Karaikal ports.

TAKING TECH ROUTE

Revenue and Disaster Management Minister R B Udhayakumar today kickstarted the trial run of Coastal Disaster Risk Reduction Project’s (CDRRP’s) Early Warning Systems (EWS) in Cuddalore and Nagapattinam. It was also opened at the State Disaster Management and Mitigation Department building at Chepauk in Chennai.

The project, which consists of warning sirens, pre-loaded voice messages and live voice messages, is fully controlled by software developed in association with Electronics Corporation of Tamilnadu (ELCOT). A total investment of Rs 50 crore has gone into the system, of which Rs 28 crore is from development and Rs 22 crore, for maintenance. The Minister also said control rooms in all 32 districts will function today.

Photos: B Anand, R Thiyagarajan & C Santhosh

NT Bureau