Cyclone Lehar weakens

Speed of the winds during landfall will be 70-80 km/hr as against 200 km/hr predicted earlier

By M Suchitra
Published: Thursday 28 November 2013

Cyclone Lehar, which is expected to  strike the Andhra coast close to Machillipatnam on Thursday afternoon, lost it’s very severe intensity on Wednesday night. According to the India Meteorological Department, it will make a landfall as a normal cyclone. Speed of the winds during the landfall will be 70-80 km/hr, gusting up to 90 km/hr.

The cyclone was predicted to be a devastating one with high wind speeds that could reach up to 200 km/hr at the time of landfall with waves surging more than  2 to 3 metre. Since the storm has lost its intensity, the waves will swell about one metre high.

The state authorities, who had to redeploy the rescue forces and make changes in its disaster management plans on Wednesday after the cyclone changed its direction, heaved a sigh of relief. The cyclone was originally expected to make the landfall close to Kakinada in East Godavari but by Wednesday afternoon it started moving towards Machillipatnam in Krishna district.

Despite the storm losing its intensity, the coastal areas are on high alert. More than 27,000 people have been evacuated from Krishna, West Godavari and East Godavari districts. Of them, more than 21,000 people were evacuated from East Godavari alone.

“Initially, our focus was on Visakhapatnam and West and East Godavari districts. Since the cyclone is going to make the landfall close to Machillipatnam, we’re now focusing on Krishna and the Godavari districts,” said C Parthasarathi, commissioner for state disaster management department. People from Guntur and Visakhapatnam will be evacuated only if it’s required, he added. More than 100 relief camps have been opened in Krishna and Godavari districts.

After getting cyclone alert from the fisheries department almost all boats that had ventured into the sea safely returned to the coast by Wednesday evening.

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