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Odisha staring at extremely severe cyclone as Fani storms closer

May 1, 2019

Odisha staring at extremely severe cyclone as Fani storms closer

In Fani, Odisha is bracing for the biggest natural calamity it has faced in recent history. Classified as an ‘extremely severe cyclonic storm’, it is expected to touch down on the state’s coast on the evening of May 3.

When it arrives, its wind speed is likely to be 175-185 km and may touch 200 km/h. It will cross the state’s coast between Gopalpur and Chandbali, to the south of Puri, on May 3 afternoon.

Gajapati, Ganjam, Khordha, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore and Mayurbhanj districts are likely to be affected by the storm. It will trigger heavy to very heavy rainfall in the south and east coastal districts while there will be isolated heavy rainfall at one or two places in the northern districts of the state.

Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, Additional Director-General of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), said Fani’s impact will be worse than that of Titli, which had hit Odisha in October 2018. Titli was classified as a very severe cyclonic storm and had made a landfall in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh at a speed of about 150 km/h. It had left eight people dead, destroyed hundreds of homes, uprooted thousands of electric poles and displaced at least three lakh people.

While storms are usual for India’s east coast and Bangladesh, they usually arise in October-November. It is extremely rare for a storm to strike in April. The last time such a storm had made a landfall in the region was in 2008, when cyclone Nargis devastated Myanmar. The last time a cyclone had arrived in India in April was 118 years ago.

According to the IMD, cyclonic storms have crossed over to Odisha in May in 1893, 1914, 1917, 1982 and 1989. While April cyclones are rare as it is, Fani’s track makes it even more rare.

Former director of Bhubaneswar Meteorological Centre, Sarat Sahu, said climate change and global warming are responsible for this unusual occurrence. He said low pressure prevails over seas and oceans when the temperature above the water body is about 26°C, but currently the temperature is 31-32°C. He said above-sea-level temperature, air pressure and wind speed determine the formation of a cyclonic storm, adding that all the three factors are such at the moment that they are making Fani more intense.

State’s preparedness
Odisha Cabinet Secretary PK Sinha conducted a meeting on Wednesday with Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi, Special Relief Commissioner (SRC) Bishnupada Sethi and other senior officials through video-conferencing. Sethi said the district administrations of coastal areas will begin evacuating people on May 2.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted: “Reviewed SRC’s preparedness as cyclone Fani has turned course to pass through the coast of Odisha. Also discussed with senior officials on the preparedness of the field officials. Administration is fully geared up to handle the situation.”

Government said 879 cyclone shelters are stocked up and ready. All food and shelter arrangements for the people have been done. The government has put 20 Odisha Disaster Repeat Action Force units, 335 fire services and 12 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) units ready. The Centre has released Rs340 crore advance funds to the state. Defence forces too have been put on high alert and educational institutes have been shut for the time being. Fishermen have been asked not to venture into the sea.