Coastal districts of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh braced for a cyclonic storm that is expected to make landfall today, as incessant rains hit normal life in Chennai.
The system, named 'Nilam', as suggested by Pakistan under the cyclone naming procedure, would move northwestwards and is likely to cross the coast between Cuddalore and Nellore by tomorrow afternoon or evening.
In Nagapattinam and Cuddalore, cyclone shelters have been kept ready in with essential supplies. The government plans to send generators and sand bags to vulnerable areas in the districts.
In Chennai, 282 schools and 52 community halls have been kept ready for shelter. Four community kitchens are to be activated by the authorities. No evacuation is likely today though as there has not been heavy rainfall yet.
According to officials, the sea will be "very rough to high" and fishermen in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts have been advised to stay off the sea. Boats have been moved to low-lying areas.
Windspeeds can reach upto 90 km in Chennai and there could be some disruption in communication lines, say officials. Danger signals ranging from five to seven have been hoisted at Chennai, Ennore, Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Puducherry ports.
Normal life in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Cuddalore and Villupuram was hit by incessant rains since Tuesday morning. A holiday was declared today for schools and colleges.
In Andhra Pradesh, a third warning signal has been issued in Krishnapatnam, Vadarevu, Machilipatnam and Nizampatnam ports while fishermen have been warned not to venture into sea.
Control rooms have been opened in the coastal districts, particularly SPS Nellore and Prakasam that are expected to face a major impact of the cyclone.
"The district has a clear contingency plan; each department including the police, fire and rescue services have been allotted specific work like clearing fallen trees, evacuating people etc. and all 21 cyclone shelters are ready," the Collector of Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, Mr T Munusamy told NDTV. Cuddalore collector, Mr Rajendra Ratnoo said generators and sand bags have been made available for the district.