Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that about 11 lakh people have been evacuated and sheltered in 4,000 places.
Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Yaas’ is likely to intensify further into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm by Tuesday night. It is very likely to cross the north Odisha-West Bengal coasts between Paradip and Sagar Islands close to north of Dhamra and south of Balasore on Wednesday noon as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
At 2.30 p.m. on Tuesday, the cyclonic storm lay centred over northwest Bay of Bengal near latitude 19.1°N and longitude 88.1°E, about 200 km southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 290 km south-southeast of Balasore (Odisha), 290 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and 280 km south of Sagar Islands, a special bulletin issued by the IMD said.
The IMD has issued a “Red Warning” of extremely heavy rainfall at isolated places over West Bengal’s East & West Midnapore districts on Wednesday when the cyclone makes the landfall. “Red Warning” has been issued for squally wind that would gradually increase to 90-120 kmph, gusting to 145 kmph over East Medinipur district from the early hours of May 26. Wind speed in Jhargram & West Medinipur districts would rise to 80-90 kmph, gusting to 110 kmph over Jhargram and West Medinipur and 80-90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph over South 24 Parganas district.
Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, Deputy Director General, Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, Kolkata, said that for West Bengal, the most significant damage would be due to a storm surge in Purba Medinipur and South 24 Parganas districts.
“For Purba Medinipur, the storm surge will be 2-4 meters above the astronomical tide and for South 24 Parganas, it will be 2 metres above the astronomical tide level,” he said, adding that the landfall of the cyclone would coincide with a high tide on Wednesday.
Tuhin Ghosh, director of the School of Oceanographic Studies, Jadavpur University, said storm surge was a matter of concern because the cyclone would coincide with the full moon tide and the water level in the seas and rivers may rise further, leading to the breach of embankments. With the memory of cyclone ‘Amphan’ battering the coastal regions in May 2020 fresh in mind, people at several places in the coastal areas, along with the administration, lent their hands to strengthen the embankments.
Tornado kills 2
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said that about 11 lakh people have been evacuated and sheltered in 4,000 places. There were reports of localised tornados at two places- Halisahar in Nadia and Chinsurah in Hooghly district.
“Several houses have been damaged [in tornados) and two people have lost their lives due to electrocution,” she said, adding that these tornados were localised extreme weather events preceding the cyclone.
Full moon high tide
Ms. Banerjee also expressed concern that the landfall of ‘Yaas’ will coincide with the full moon high tide. Urging people to stay indoors, she said she would spend the night at the State Secretariat, monitoring the situation from a “war room” on a real-time basis. During the day, Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar also visited the State Secretariat and met the Chief Minister.
Ms. Banerjee, who spoke to the District Magistrates, said the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary were in constant touch with officials.
“We have a workforce of 74,000 people, which includes officers and personnel of different departments to combat the cyclone. If we put together the police and other agencies, the number of manpower is about three lakh,” she said. She did not rule out the deployment of the Army in the situation areas. The State government was in touch with all agencies, she noted.
Thirty-five teams of the National Disaster Response Force and 51 teams of the State Disaster Response Force have been deployed at strategic locations. About 1000 teams for restoration of power and 450 for telecom services’ restoration have been kept ready by the government.