A cyclone is set to hit the coast of Odisha near Gopalpur around midnight Thursday. The state government has instructed officials of coastal districts and various departments to be on alert and ready to meet any situation, official sources said. The deep depression is moving at a speed of about 23 kmph and is likely to intensify into a cyclonic storm shortly, the cyclone warning division of the IMD said Thursday evening.
The depression, which was initially over west-central Bay of Bengal and nearby areas, has moved westward and intensified into a deep depression, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said in a bulletin.
It now lay centred at about 130 km southeast of Gopalpur in Odisha, the bulletin said.
"It (the depression) is very likely to move west-northwestwards. It will cross south Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh coasts between Kalingapatnam and Puri close to Gopalpur around midnight as a cyclonic storm with wind speeds of 60 kmph to 70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph," Mritunjay Mohapatra, IMD Additional Director General, said.
Danger signs with signal number 3, which warns of surface winds between 40-50 kmph, have been hoisted in all ports of Odisha, officials said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held a review meeting during the day and directed the officials to keep a close watch on the situation and take steps to ensure no loss of life. He also asked them to arrange adequate relief materials.
The cyclone warning division's (CWD) advisory said the sea will be very rough over central and north Bay of Bengal and off the Odisha, West Bengal and north Andhra Pradesh coasts.
There will also be a storm surge of about 0.5 m above astronomical tides and it is likely to inundate low lying areas of Vizianagaram, Srikakulam districts in Andhra Pradesha and Gajapati, Ganjam, Khurda and Puri districts in Odisha at the time of landfall, it said.
The chief minister asked officials of the coastal districts to be alert and prepared.
Patnaik also issued direction for keeping the government offices open in Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Nayagarh and Khurda districts which are likely to be hit by maximum wind speed during the cyclone.
As roads and power supply are likely to be affected due to the cyclone, he asked the concerned departments to take steps in advance to ensure quick restoration works.
He directed that special attention be given to water, electricity supply and hospitals, an official in the CMO said.
"We are fully alert to deal with the situation. All concerned departments have been put on alert and the situation is being closely monitored," Chief Secretary A P Padhi said.
The district administrations in Puri and Ganjam have been asked to carry out evacuation in vulnerable and low-lying areas in their respective regions, if necessary.
The health and family welfare department has taken steps to make available essential drugs and consumables in health facilities and provide health services in cut off areas.
Arrangements have also been made for providing power back up at all health facilities, an official said.
Heavy rainfall lashed several parts of Odisha since Wednesday and rain and thundershower are likely to occur in the next 48 hours, the IMD said adding it will ease thereafter.
The depression caused heavy rain in Balasore, Ganjam, Bhadrak, Puri, Khordha, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara and Jajpur districts on Thursday.
Under the depression's impact heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely to occur at some places in Rayagada, Kalahandi, Koraput and Nabarangpur districts till Friday, the IMD bulletin said.
The low pressure system is also likely to trigger heavy to very heavy rainfall in interior western and northern districts like Balangir, Bargarh, Jharsuguda, Sambalpur, Sundargarh, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj on Friday, the Met centre said.
In view of the adverse weather conditions, the Met office advised suspension of fishing operations and asked fishermen not to venture into the sea till Friday.
Special Relief Commissioner B P Sethi has asked all concerned to remain alert, closely monitor the situation and keep the administrative machinery in full preparedness to meet any eventuality and ensure round-the-clock functioning of the control room.