Chennai: Cyclone Vardah on Monday afternoon crossed the Tamil Nadu coast near Chennai, bringing in strong winds, residents as well as officials said.
According to officials, the landfall would continue for around four hours with rains and strong winds. Chennai bore the brunt of the nature’s fury. Several trees fell on the roads. Many two wheelers too fell while driving, unable to balance themselves in view of the powerful winds.
The Tamil Nadu government said over 7,350 people were shifted to 54 relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Villupuram districts. The Chennai Municipal Corporation received over 130 complaints of fallen trees. The railways cancelled suburban services and diverted some long distance trains.
Flights too were hit. “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. Shastri said 20 flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled. He said the incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore. He said the strong winds would persist till early evening.
The Met department has 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. The weather department warned of squally winds reaching 50-60 kmph along and off Andhra Pradesh and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coast.
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 during landfall. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard were geared up to lend a helping hand.
The government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in Chennai, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur districts. The Tamil Nadu government also advised private sector organisations to allow their workers to avail a holiday or work from home.