A deep depression in the Bay of Bengal is most likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm 'Phethai' by Saturday and is set to bring heavy downpour in several parts of Odisha, the Indian Meteorological Department said on Friday. The MeT department added that it is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours and into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 36 hours. It will move in north-north-west direction and cross Andhra Pradesh coast between Ongole and Kakinada on December 17 afternoon.
Cyclone Phethai is the third cyclone in the northeast monsoon season after cyclones Gaja and Titli. In November, Cyclone Gaja claimed 45 lives and damaged over 1.17 lakh houses. At least 57 people died in Cyclone Titli in Odisha in October.
Light to moderate rainfall is most liley to occur at several places in Odisha from December 16 to 18. The weatherman added that the depression over the south-east Bay of Bengal formed on Thursday intensified into a deep depression on Friday. It moved in the north-north-west direction and lay centred about 1,090 km southeast of Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into southwest and adjoining west-central Bay of Bengal on Saturday and west-central and adjoining southwest Bay of Bengal on December 16 and 17, Biswas said.
In view of the weather conditions, distance cautionary signal number one has been put up at all ports of the state.
Signal number one implies a low pressure area is forming far at sea and surface wind could be up to 33 knots (about 60 kmph). The signal means a port is not affected but warns of slightly higher wind speed.
The Odisha government has already asked district collectors to take steps to protect paddy from the unseasonal rain.
"Necessary measures should be taken to protect the paddy in mandis, if any, against rain," Joint Relief Commissioner Pravat Ranjan Mohapatra said in a letter to the district collectors on Thursday. Farmers were advised to take necessary steps to protect their paddy and other crops from the possible rain, the letter said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Coast Guard (ICG) has been kept on standby following the forecast that a severe cyclonic storm was likely to hit Ongole and Kakinada regions of Andhra Pradesh on December 17.
It has also initiated proactive and preemptive measures to prevent the loss of lives of fishermen at sea and ensure their safe return as the regional weather office has predicted the formation of a deep depression that may transform into a severe cyclonic storm, an official release said.
Ships and aircraft in the eastern seaboard, especially in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh,have been kept on stand by to provide any assistance to the states and carry out relief operations if the need arose, it said.
The ICG has made necessary arrangements to inform fishermen who have ventured into the sea. Based on the information received by Coast Guard station in Chennai, two ships, Sarang and Rani Gaidinliu have been despatched to escort the fishing boats to safety.
In addition, aircraft with night vision capabilities have also been deployed for surveillance in the sea.
Similar efforts were undertaken by the Coast Guard during Cyclone 'Gaja' resulting in "nil loss of life at sea," the release added.
(With PTI inputs)