Very severe cyclonic storm 'Vardah', the most intense to have hit the Tamil Nadu capital in two decades, claimed four lives, flattened homes, snapped communication lines and threw into disarry rail, road and air traffic as it crossed the coast here, pounding Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kanchipuram with heavy rain and squall.
Thousands of people were evacuated as roaring wind clocking speed of 100 km an hour uprooted trees, tore off hoardings and toppled cars.
Advertisement hoardings and name boards of offices and shops were damaged and glass panes on windows and buildings shattered due to the strong wind. Water-logging was reported from in several roads, and sewage overflows in many areas.
Those on two wheelers who continued to drive despite warnings fell on the road due to strong winds.
At least 260 trees and 37 electricity poles crashed in Chennai, officials said.
The intensity of the gales made a severe impact on railway infrastructure, resulting in considerable damage to overhead electrical lines at several locations.
This affect train services, said Anupam Sharma, the Divisional Railway Manager. A total of 20 trains were held up in Chennai stations. The Southern Railways cancelled three long distance trains while diverting and rescheduling several other trains.
"After 1994, this is the first very severe cyclonic storm to hit Chennai coast. The storm has completely crossed the coast as expected (this evening)," a senior Met Official said.
Personnel from the National Disaster Response Force(NDRF) and SDRF were deployed for rescue efforts as army was put on standby.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh to take stock of the situation in the two states and promised all help.
Cyclone Vardah is set to pass through south Goa on December 14, which will lead to rise in temperature and light rains in the state from tomorrow onwards, an official said today, adding the cyclone will reach Karnataka by tomorrow.
Here are the highlights
#CycloneVardah Govt aided, pvt schools, colleges & other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram & Tiruvallur to remain closed tomm— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
#CycloneVardah: Hut Damages-47, No of tree fallen- 3384 and 696 removed. No of Electricity Board Poles fallen-3400: NDMA— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
#CycloneVardah: 4 people died (2 in Chennai, 1 in Kancheepuram and 1 in Nagapattinam): National Disaster Management Authority— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Winds and Rains might still intensify. DO NOT venture out: National Disaster Management Authority #cyclonevardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
HM Rajnath Singh speaks to TN CM O Panneerselvam enquiring about situation in the aftermath of #CycloneVardah crossing Chennai,Tiruvallur— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
#CycloneVardah DG CISF directs Chief Airport Security Officer to conduct a damage assessment exercise after Cyclone hit Chennai Airport.— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
2 persons died. 24 huts damaged. 8008 people accommodated in 95 relief camps: National Disaster Management Authority #CycloneVardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Some trees and electric poles have fallen due to that, NDRF has begun its operations to clear this: RK Pachnanda (DG, NDRF) #CycloneVardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Ship that was sent to rescue two fishermen off Kakinada(AP) couldn't reach them due to rough sea: AP Coast guard DIG Haribola #cyclonevardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Complete landfall to take another couple of hours.Conditions to remain severe between Chennai & Nellore: K.G.Ramesh,DG IMD #CycloneVardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Chennai Suburban railway network suspended till further notice.Some trains reaching & leaving Chennai diverted & cancelled:ADG(PR) Railways pic.twitter.com/WJxiHkreb7— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
#FLASH Cyclone Vardah makes landfall in Chennai, landfall would be complete in 4 hours— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
We have to remain cautious & ensure that we are vigilant for next 24 to 36 hours: Harsh Vardhan, Union Min for Science&Tech & Earth Sciences pic.twitter.com/AjWZpAtCHA— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
19 teams of NDRF deployed in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu: NDRF— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
People in need of any help - Feel free to DM us. We are here 24*7 to serve you in the best way possible. #CycloneVardah— AIADMK (@AIADMKOfficial) December 12, 2016
Six army columns ready and on standby for rescue & relief operations, say army sources #cyclonevardah— ANI (@ANI) December 12, 2016
Skymet Weather chief meteorologist Mahesh Palawat said, "Chennai can expect winds travelling up to 100kmph for about an hour when Vardah makes landfall.The storm will subside by evening."
According to Cyclone Warning Centre (CWC), Visakhapatnam, the cyclonic storm lay centred at around 390km south-east of Nellore and 330km east of Chennai by Sunday evening. “It is very likely to move westwards and move towards north Tamil Nadu and South Andhra coasts, before making a landfall at south Andhra coast close to Chennai by Monday afternoon,” the CWC bulletin said.
Here are the top 10 developments in the story
1) Tamil Nadu has announced a holiday for schools and colleges in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, and parts of Villupuram. Holiday also declared for schools, colleges and to be closed in Puducherry, Karaikal and Cuddalore district.
2) The Andhra Pradesh government has also placed the administrative machinery in SPS Nellore, Prakasam, Guntur and Krishna districts on high alert to meet any eventuality.
3) Rains will start on Sunday night and gradually increase on Monday in the northern districts of Chennai, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram. The sea would be rough and fishermen have been asked to not venture into the sea for the next 48 hours.
4) Eastern Naval Command (ENC) is all geared up to carry out relief operations. The ships are embarked with additional divers, doctors, inflatable rubber boats, integral helicopters and relief material that include food, tentage, clothes, medicines and blankets, among other things, in quantities sufficient to sustain over 5,000 people.
"All operational ships have been readied and kept on standby to undertake humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) operations, including evacuation, should the situation demand," the Indian Navy said.
"Additionally, 30 diving teams with Gemini boats and four platoons with additional relief material are ready to be pressed into action at a short notice," the navy said.
5) Heavy rains ranging from 15 to 20 cm are expected along the south coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema region, besides moderate rainfall in Prakasam, Guntur and Anantapur.
6) Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who cancelled his trip to the Gulf - scheduled to begin tomorrow - said, "The intensity of Vardah may not be as high as Hudhud, which battered Visakhapatnam in October 2014. Nevertheless, we are taking all precautions". He conducted a teleconference with officials of different departments this morning and directed them to take all precautionary measures.
7) "I will constantly monitor the situation," Chandrababu Naidu told officials. "Keep adequate stocks of food and also cash. Electricity poles and cement should also be kept ready for any emergency."
8) On Sunday evening, Vardah was 300km east northeast of Chennai, moving westwards at 13kmph.n 2010, cyclone Jal made landfall north of Chennai, while in 2012, Nilam hit the south of Chennai near Kalpakkam.
9) After forecasting that Vardah would make landfall in AP, the IMD on Sunday made a dramatic announcement: The storm, it said, would instead make landfall near Chennai.
10) On Friday, the forces evacuated over 2,300 tourists, including a dozen foreigners, by air and sea from Andaman & Nicobar islands, which was hit by the cyclone.