Powerful tropical cyclonic storm ‘Phethai’, brewing in the Bay of Bengal, may give Tamil Nadu a miss and head towards Andhra Pradesh, but Chennai and neighbouring coastal districts are likely to get heavy rain starting Sunday.As India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Thursday declared the formation of a cyclone by Friday, alarm bells started ringing in south Andhra and north coastal TN as the forecast showed the storm intensifying into a severe cyclone generating sustained surface winds of 120 kmph — enough to inflict damage on the scale of Cyclone ‘Gaja’.
Though there is no consensus yet on the point of landfall, numerical models indicate the system would head to AP. The evening IMD bulletin said: “Depression over the southeast Bay of Bengal... is very likely to intensify further into a deep depression in next 12 hours and into a cyclonic storm during the subsequent 24 hours. It is likely to move north-westwards towards AP and adjoining north TN coasts during next 72 hours.”
The probability of Phethai making landfall in AP is higher. “Even if it moves towards AP, it would still be about 200-300 km from north coastal TN. So, the likelihood of Chennai getting heavy downpour from outer bands for at least a day is high,” S Balachandran, deputy director-general of Meteorology said.
Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) has predicted high waves in the range of 3.0 - 3.5 metres between 12.30 pm and 11.30 pm on December 16 along the coast of Tamil Nadu from Dhanushkodi to Pulicat. Since the sea condition is likely to be rough to very rough, the government has advised all deep sea fishing vessels to return to the coast.
GS Sameeran, Director, Department of Fisheries, told Express that the weather warning issued by IMD was conveyed to all fishermen associations, cooperative societies. “Issue of the fishing token has been stopped from Wednesday. All boats were alerted to come to the nearest harbour for safe berthing.
“As on Thursday, all boats, except 321 deep sea fishing vessels from Chennai, have reached the harbour. The 321 vessels are still in the sea about 100 nautical miles off Vizag and Krishnapattinam coast and are safe. They are sailing towards nearest harbours,” he said. The Director OF Department of Fisheries said the help of Coast Guard and Navy was sought and preventive sorties for alerting the fishing boats was done. “An officer from our fisheries department has been deputed to Krishnapattinam to coordinate with AP fisheries,” the official said.