Chennai, Dec 12 Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast and ripped through the city killing two and leaving a trail of destruction in the form of uprooted trees, damaged roof sheets and more.
“The cyclone crossed the coast near Chennai Port Trust. It will weaken into a depression in the coming hours. However there will be rains and winds blowing at 70 kmph,” S. Stella, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, told IANS.
She said the wind speed touched a peak of around 120 kmph when the first part of the powerful cyclone crossed the coast on Monday evening.
The cyclone was accompanied by heavy to very heavy rains, which left Chennai drenched. But most people, aware of the nature’s fury, remained indoors, leaving the roads across the city virtually deserted.
According to S. Balachandran, another Director at the Regional Meteorological Centre, said the western part of the cyclone crossed the coast first and then came the central part.
Stella said the Meenambakkam Meteorological Centre recorded a rainfall of 18 cm from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. The Nungambakkam centre recorded 10 cm of rains.
The cyclone felled several trees and claimed two lives, the government said. Overhead cables and electricity poles also crashed. Some trees fell collapsed on parked vehicles.
Those on two wheelers who continued to drive despite warnings fell on the road due to strong winds.
At least 260 trees and 37 electricity poles crashed in Chennai, officials said.
The intensity of the gales made a severe impact on railway infrastructure, resulting in considerable damage to overhead electrical lines at several locations.
This affect train services, said Anupam Sharma, the Divisional Railway Manager. A total of 20 trains were held up in Chennai stations.
The government said over 8,000 people were shifted to relief camps set up in Chennai, Kanchipuram, Thiruvallur and Villupuram districts.
As a precaution, the electricity board cut power supply to major parts of the city in the morning itself.
Mobile phone signals were affected severely due to the cyclone.
The railways cancelled suburban rail services and diverted some long distance trains.
“As the wind speed is around 50 knots, it is not conducive to operate the flights,” Chennai Airport Director Deepak Shastri told IANS.
A total of 25 Chennai bound flights were diverted, nine got delayed and five were cancelled. The incoming flights were diverted to Bengaluru or Coimbatore.
Passengers who reached Chennai by trains just before the cyclone hit faced huge problems reaching their destinations due to the fewer number of buses and autorickshaws on the roads.
The Met department predicted rainfall over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, north coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry over the next 36 hours (till Wednesday).
The Tamil Nadu government declared a holiday for all government, government-aided private schools, colleges and other educational institutions in the affected areas.
It has told the private sector to allow their workers to avail a holiday or work from home.
It is not clear whether the educational institutions will open on Tuesday as several uprooted trees are blocking Chennai roads and need to be cleared.