The landfall of Cyclone Nivar (pronounced Nivaar, meaning atmosphere) began around 10:30 pm, according to India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) latest weather bulletin on Wednesday night.
The wind speed is expected to be between 120 and 130 kmph, gusting upto 145 kmph when the cyclone will make landfall, the IMD said in its bulletin at 9:30 pm.
Nivar will hit as very severe cyclonic storm, the IMD said, adding that the storm is likely to cross the coast between Karaikal in Puducherry and Mamallapuram “during the midnight of November 25 and early hours of November 26”.
Torrential rains accompanied by gusty winds lashed several parts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry on Wednesday, inundating many localities while over one lakh people were moved to shelters as the cyclone approached land.
More than 150 relief centres are on standby, government officials said.
Areas in and around Chennai witnessed intense spells of rain, accompanied by strong winds on Wednesday.
The cyclone is likely to damage houses and roads, uproot power lines and trees and destroy crops along India’s south east coast, the IMD said in a statement.
Edappadi Palaniswami, Tamil Nadu state’s chief minister, has declared Wednesday and Thursday as public holidays in some areas, ordered the halting of bus services, advised fishermen not venture to sea and asked people to stay indoors.
Vessels in the city’s port have been moved to sea and port operations will likely remain shut until the cyclone makes landfall, a senior port official said.
Chennai’s airport will remain closed until 7 am local time (0130 GMT) on Thursday, India’s aviation minister said in a post on Twitter.
Nivar is moving west northwards with a speed of 16 kmph and is currently about 130 km off Chennai and 55 km from Puducherry, the IMD said in its latest bulletin.
Chennai, Chengelpet, Tiruvallur and Cuddalore districts in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry received heavy rains. Chennai recorded the maximum of 16 cm on Wednesday, while Puducherry received 10 cm, the IMD said.
The gates of Chembarambakkam reservoir near here were opened for the first time in five years as a precautionary measure, releasing a torrent of surplus water into the Adyar river after its storage was just 20 per cent short of its capacity due to heavy rain ahead of the cyclone.
Rainfall is expected to continue in many places in these regions on Thursday too with heavy rainfall at some places.