Severe Cyclonic Storm ‘Yaas’ is likely to intensify further into a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm during the next 12 hours, a bulletin of the Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC) Kolkata said on Tuesday.
The cyclonic storm that lay centered over east central & adjoining west central Bay of Bengal moved northwestwards with a speed of about 17 kmph in the past six hours. At about 0830 hours, it was located about 280 km south-southeast of Paradip (Odisha), 380 km south-southeast of Balasore (Odisha), 370 km south-southeast of Digha (West Bengal) and 370 km south-southwest of Sagar Islands (West Bengal).
“It is very likely to cross north Odisha-West Bengal coasts between Paradip and Sagar Island close to north of Dhamra and south of Balasore, during the noon of Wednesday, the 26th May as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm,” G.K. Das, deputy director and head of the RMC said.
The India Meteorological Department 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. Squally wind would gradually increase to “90-100 Kmph gusting to 110 kmph from 26th early hours and increase thereafter becoming 90-120 kmph gusting to 145 kmph over northwest Bay of Bengal along & off East Medinipur districts at the time of landfall”.
Lakhs of people have been evacuated from the low-lying areas of the State, particularly from Purba Medinipur (east Medinipur) and South 24 parganas district. From Tuesday morning, the coastal areas, including Kolkata, witnessed rainfall and squally winds.
Along with damage due to squally winds, experts are concerned about storm surge that can lead to breach of embankments in the coastal areas, particularly Sunderbans. “Tidal waves of height about 2 -4 meters above astronomical tide are likely to inundate the low-lying areas of east Midnapore district around the time of the landfall,” the RMC bulletin said. For South 24 parganas district, the prediction is that tidal waves 2 meters above astronomical tide may inundate inundate the low-lying coastal areas around the time of the landfall.
The West Bengal government has issued flood warning in nine districts. There were reports of breach of embankments at few places in South 24 parganas and Purba Medinipur districts on Tuesday afternoon.
‘Storm surge a matter of concern’
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 river may rise further, leading to breach of embankments. At several places in the coastal areas, along with the administration, people have tried to strengthen the embankments.
Thirty-five teams of the National Disaster Response Force and 51 teams of the State Disaster Response Force have been deployed at strategic locations. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has said that 1000 teams for restoration of power and 450 for telecom services’ restoration have been kept ready. Ms. Banerjee was present at the State Secretariat on Tuesday, where a 24-hour helpline is operational for the cyclone.