Natural Disasters

Cyclone Gaja: 11 people killed, 82,000 evacuated

Nagapattinam has borne the brunt of the damage caused by the cyclone which made landfall at 2am

 
By Akshit Sangomla
Last Updated: Friday 16 November 2018
Cyclone Gaja
The storm brought significant amount of rainfall to the coastal towns and villages of Tamil Nadu. Credit: Getty Images The storm brought significant amount of rainfall to the coastal towns and villages of Tamil Nadu. Credit: Getty Images

Severe cyclone Gaja made landfall between Nagapattinam and Vedaranniyam towns of Tamil Nadu at around 2am today. Earlier the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had forecasted that the storm would cross over to land as a cyclone but Gaja maintained its intensity and remained a severe cyclone when it hit the Tamil Nadu coast. It had sustained wind speeds of 100-110 km/hr with gusts of up to 120 km/hr. The earlier predicted wind speeds were 80-90 km/hr.

At around 8:30am in the morning it was situated 95 km west of Atiramapattinam. The storm is moving in the westward direction and has decreased in intensity. It will further de-intensify into a deep depression as it crosses the Indian mainland into the Arabian Sea. The cyclone has weakened to a deep depression as on 11:30 am today. It is situated in the interior of Tamil Nadu around 80 Km northwest of Madurai. It is going to further weaken to a depression by today evening and into a low pressure area by early Saturday morning. Meanwhile, the IMD has predicted the formation of a "fresh low pressure area over central parts of south Bay of Bengal by the evening of 18th November".

Nagapattinam has borne the brunt of the damage caused by the cyclone which has claimed 11 lives in the state, according to chief minister Edapaddi K Palaniswami. Some media reports have claimed the death toll to be around 20. More than 82,000 people have been shifted to shelters by the authorities to minimise the loss of lives. Cuddalore and Pudukottai are the other severely affected districts. The storm brought significant amount of rainfall to the coastal towns and villages of Tamil Nadu. Atiramapattinam received 160 mm of rainfall while Thiruthuraipoondi  got 170 mm, Muthupet (170 mm), Peravurani (140 mm), Pattukottai (140 mm) and Neyveli (140 mm).

The time of landfall of the storm also kept changing until it finally found the shore. Earlier the IMD had predicted that it would cross over to land in the afternoon of November 15. Later, this changed to the evening and the night of the same day. But the storm lingered on along the coast for a long time and finally made landfall only in the early morning hours of November 16. In October, cyclone Titli had also showed unusual characteristics in its movement and intensity which had led to IMD calling it a ‘rarest of rare’ cyclone.

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