A part of cyclone Vardah hit the Tamil Nadu coast on Monday afternoon, with winds touching 90 kmph and killing two people, while the central part of it is the process of crossing, authorities said.
The cyclone hit the coast about 10 km north of Chennai. The Tamil Nadu government said two persons had lost their lives due to the nature’s fury.
“The western part of the cyclone Vardah has crossed the coast around 10 km north of Chennai,” S. Balachandran, Director at the Regional Meteorological Centre, told IANS.
“Now the central part is crossing. Then the eastern part of the cyclone will cross. Since the central part is crossing there is calm and the rains have stopped.
“The landfall will continue till 8-9 p.m.,” he added.
Balachandran said it was not possible to pinpoint the area where the cyclone had crossed since data had to be collated and also only one part of Vardah had hit the coast.
He said wind speed touched around 90 kmph when the cyclone crossed.
There would be a brief lull in the wind and rains but they would again pick up, he said.
Meanwhile, the cyclone has felled several trees and claimed two lives, the government said.
Those on two wheelers who continued to drive despite warnings fell on the road due to strong winds.
The government said over 8,000 people were shifted to relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Villupuram districts.
A total of 260 trees and 37 electricity poles had fallen in Chennai. More continued to collapse.
The railways cancelled suburban rail services and diverted some long distance trains.
“As the wind speed is around 50 knots, it is not conducive to operate the flights,” Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri told IANS.
Around 500 passengers remained in the domestic terminal.
A total of 20 flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled.
He said the incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore.
The Met department predicted rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next 36 hours (till Wednesday).
The rainfall intensity would increase gradually, becoming heavy to very heavy rainfall (7-19 cm) at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (less than equal to 20 cm) over Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore and Prakasam districts of Andhra Pradesh on Monday.
The weather department warned of squally winds in parts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh.
The tidal wave of about one metre height above the astronomical tide is very likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Thiruvallur and Kanchipuram districts of Tamil Nadu and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh.
The Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard were geared up to lend a helping hand.
The Tamil Nadu government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the affected areas.
It has told the private sector to allow their workers to avail a holiday or work from home.