Chennai: Cyclone Michaung approaches coast, The weather department has instructed people to stay indoors

Heavy downpour battered Chennai after a deep depression in the Bay of Bengal intensified into Cyclone Michaung on Monday, bringing torrential rains to coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, reported The Indian Express.

The storm was about 110 kms away from Chennai around 5.30 am.

The India Meteorological Department’s regional centre in Chennai has instructed people to stay indoors as the weather system will intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” later on Monday. It will pass by the South Andhra Pradesh coast on December 5 and make landfall between Nellore and Machilipatnam with wind speeds touching 100 kms per hour.

At least 10 coastal districts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Odisha will bear the brunt of the cyclone for the next three days, The Indian Express reported.

The rains have left several housing localities and low-lying areas in Chennai flooded.

All schools in Andhra Pradesh have been closed for Monday while Tamil Nadu has declared a public holiday in Chennai and its adjoining districts Chengalpattu, Tiruvallur and Kancheepuram, The Indian Express reported.

The meteorological department on Monday sounded “red alert” for the West Godavari, Konaseema, Nellore, Prakasam, Krishna, Bapatla, Guntur, Tirupati, Chittoor, Annamayya and YSR Kadapa districts in Andhra Pradesh, The Hindu reported. This indicates chances of “extremely heavy” rain in these regions, which is defined as between 200 to 250 millimetres of rain within 24 hours.

Five southern Odisha districts – Malkangiri, Koraput, Rayagada, Gajapati and Ganjam – were placed under a “yellow alert” on Monday indicating chances of less severe weather there.

The Hindu reported that flights to and from Chennai, Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam have been disrupted while 40 trains from to and from Kerala were cancelled on Monday. Ten flights were also diverted from the Bengaluru airport. On Monday afternoon, flights at the Chennai airport were suspended until 11 pm.

Chennai metro rail trains were operational on Monday morning but commuters are contending with waterlogging and long queues at railway stations. Suburban train operations in the city have been suspended but a passenger special is being operated every hour on all suburban railway lines in the city.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is monitoring the situation and the Centre has begun coordinating relief and rescue efforts for Tuesday, PTI reported.

Last week, the National Crisis Management Committee had reviewed the preparedness of the state governments and central ministries and departments, PTI reported. The National Disaster Response Force has set up 18 teams for Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Puducherry and 10 additional teams have been kept on standby.

Rescue and relief teams of the Coast Guard, the Army and the Navy have also been kept on standby, the news agency reported.

The Weather Channel reported that Cyclone Michaung, a name suggested by Myanmar, is the Bay of Bengal’s fourth cyclone and the Indian Ocean’s sixth this year. The Indian Ocean typically sees four cyclones annually, usually after the monsoon season ends.

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