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Cyclone Yaas: States, NDRF Brace for Landfall, Begin Evacuations

Cyclone Yaas is likely to move north-northwestwards and cross the coasts of the Odisha and West Bengal on 26 May.

Updated
India
4 min read
Rough sea weather conditions due to formation of a Cyclone. Image for representative purposes.
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A deep depression over the east-central Bay of Bengal has intensified into cyclonic storm Yaas, and is likely to turn into a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ in the next 24 hours, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday, 24 May.

The nomenclature is given by Oman and signifies a tree bearing fragrant flowers.

Cyclone Yaas is likely to move north-northwestwards and cross the coasts of the Odisha and West Bengal on 26 May, IMD has stated.

"It is very likely to cross north Odisha-West Bengal coasts between Paradip and Sagar islands around noon, 26 May, as a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’," IMD stated, according to IANS.

The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has committed to deploy 99 teams across the states of Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Andaman and Nicobar Islands, in view of the cyclone, the force’s Director General SN Pradhan told news agency ANI.

What are the Preparations So Far?

Union Home Minister Amit Shah on Monday held a virtual meeting with the chief ministers of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, and the Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands to review preparations for Cyclone Yaas.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a meeting with senior government officials to review the preparations for the approaching storm.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) had airlifted 950 NDRF personnel and 70 tonne material from Jamnagar, Varanasi, Patna, and Arakonnam to Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Port Blair on 15 transport aircraft by Sunday, IANS reported.

The Indian Navy, currently in the midst of Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) and rescue operations on the western coast, which is reeling from the aftermath Cyclone Tauktae, has moved 10 HADR pallets to Bhubaneswar and Kolkata, while five HADR pallets are ready at Port Blair.

West Bengal

NDRF has deployed 35 teams – two in North Bengal and 33 in South Bengal as a cautionary measure.

Gurminder Singh, Commandant, Eastern 2 BN NDRF, told news agency ANI, “We're shifting some teams from North 24 Parganas to the west, which may have a large impact.”

As per a senior official of the state’s Disaster Management Department, the agency’s primary target is to minimise casualty. For this purpose, it has shifted most of the people from the coastal and low-lying areas to the cyclone shelters.
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“Coast guard and marine police, along with NDRF and SDRF teams, are keeping a strict watch in areas like Digha, Shankarpur, Frazergunj, Kakdwip and Bakkhali. They are not allowing anybody to venture into the rough waters,” the official said, IANS reported.

A ‘Red Alert’ has been issued in all the coastal areas of Digha, Shankarpur in East Midnapore, Frazerganj, Kakdwip and Sagar in South 24 Parganas.

Andhra Pradesh

Following the video conference with Home Minister Shah, CM Jagan Reddy held a review meeting with the officials, deliberating over the necessary measures to face the storm, and most importantly, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other health emergencies amid the disaster.

The officials briefed the CM that collectors in Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts are on high alert and the process of evacuation in vulnerable areas has commenced in the Srikakulam district, bordering Odisha. Evacuations will be started in other districts too.

The CM also directed officials to be vigilant and undertake steps to ensure:

  • If necessary, COVID patients in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam districts will immediately be evacuated.
  • Effective measures should be taken to ensure that there are no power supply issues and instructed the officials to take steps in resolving them.
  • Engage all the necessary technical staff during this time.
  • Power distribution system should be reviewed and appropriate steps should be taken accordingly.
  • Evacuate people from inland areas to safer places where necessary.
  • Ensure facilities, like essentials in relief camps are in place.

Odisha

In addition to the 22 NDRF teams airlifted to the state, 10 more NDRF units were moved to Odisha on Sunday night.

Pradeep Kumar Jena, Odisha’s Development Commissioner-cum-Special Relief Commissioner visited Balasore district and held a meeting with BDOs, Tahasildars, Block Education Officers, police personnel and Rural Drinking Water Supply and sanitation officials to review the pre-emptive measures in the state.

Jena ordered the evacuation of people staying in thatched huts, houses on the shoreline and other makeshift dwellings to cyclone shelters and concrete school buildings.

The Regional Meteorological Centre of Bhubaneswar has issued red warnings for eight districts in the state, including Balasore, Bhadrak, Jajpur, Kendrapara, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar.

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Additionally, eight ships of the Eastern Naval Command and the Andaman and Nicobar Command have been embarked with HADR Bricks to provide relief to the people likely to be impacted.

As per information provided by the Defence Ministry, "Four diving and 10 flood relief columns have been pre-positioned at Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Chilika for assisting civil administration at a short notice.”

What is the Forecast?

Cyclone Yaas, stemming from a western disturbance, has been forecast to produce thunderstorm and lightning accompanied with isolated to fairly widespread rainfall over the Western Himalayan Region, and isolated rainfall and thunderstorms over Northwestern plains during the next 24 hours, IMD stated.

In north coastal Andhra Pradesh, heavy to very heavy falls is expected at isolated places on 25 May. Assam and Meghalaya will likely witness light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places on 26 and 27 May.

Odisha

Districts of Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Khurda, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Dhenkanal, Keonjhargarh are predicted to witness heavy to very heavy rainfall.

Further, heavy downpour at isolated places in Puri, Khurda, Angul, Deogarh, Sundergarh is expected on 26 May and heavy rainfall is likely in north interior Odisha on 27 May.

West Bengal

West Bengal is likely to see light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall over Medinipur and South 24 Parganas.

Heavy rainfall is also likely at isolated places in Howrah, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas districts on 25 May.

On 26 may, extremely heavy rain is forecasted at isolated places over districts of Jhargram, Medinipur, South 24 Parganas and heavy to very heavy rain at few places in Purulia, Bankura, Bardhaman, Howrah, Hooghly, Kolkata, North 24 Paraganas and Birbhum.

Jharkhand

Light to moderate rainfall predicted at most places with instances of heavy to very heavy rainfall, as well as extremely heavy falls at isolated places on 26 and 27 May.

Bihar

The state is likely to witness light to moderate rainfall at most places. Isolated places will see heavy to very heavy rainfall as well as extremely heavy falls on 26 and 27 May.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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