Cyclone Titli, the strongest cyclone to have formed over the Bay of Bengal this year, hit the Andhra Pradesh-Odisha coast early on Thursday bringing heavy rains and uprooting trees and electric poles in several districts of the two states, officials said.
“The centre of the eye of the cyclone that lies over land moved toward Gopalpur in Odisha after hitting the coast in Andhra Pradesh,” P Mahapatra, Regional Specialised Meteorological Centre (RSMC) of India Meteorology Department (IMD), said while speaking to the Hindustan Times.
“However, the landfall process will continue for next two to three hours as wall cloud in the rear sector of the cyclone is yet to enter completely into the land,” Mahapatra added.
Gopalpur in Odisha reported surface winds at 126 kmph and Kalingapatanam in Andhra Pradesh recorded wind speed of 56 kmph.
As the landfall process started, the three north coastal districts of Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam experienced heavy rains and high-speed gales. And at least five districts – Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khurda and Jagatsinghpur – in Odisha also received rainfall coupled with high-speed winds under the impact of Cyclone Titli.
“The process of landfall has started and it will completely cross the Odisha coast in one or two hours. The system will pass close to Gopalpur,” HR Biswas, director of Meteorological Centre in Bhubaneswar, said according to news agency PTI.
The storm is expected to gradually weaken and re-curve northeastwards and move towards Gangetic West Bengal across Odisha by Thursday afternoon, Biswas said. He added that Cyclone Titli is being monitored by the coastal Doppler Weather Radars at Visakhapatnam, Gopalpur and Paradip.
There were no casualties reported so for anywhere in the cyclone-hit areas because of preparedness by official machinery, Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu said at a teleconference with the district collectors of Visakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram.
Trail of destruction
Officials said trees and electric poles were uprooted and kuchha houses were damaged in several areas in Andhra Pradesh and Odisha. Seawater entered houses in Uppada in Andhra Pradesh’s East Godavari district as the maximum of the height of the tides was of 10ft along the coast close to the point of landfall.
The highway in the Uppada-Kakinada stretch was closed for traffic as a precautionary measure. Cyclone Titli battered Palasa municipality badly, bringing life to a standstill and several mandals in Srikakulam district continued to reel under pitched darkness.
Road communication in some places, including Odisha’s Gopalpur and Berhampur, was snapped, according to PTI.
Uddanam region with seven mandals in Srikakulam district bore the brunt of Cyclone Titli with heavy damages of coconut and cashew plantations. Standing crops in Srikakulam and Vizianagaram districts also reported damages on a massive scale.
Trains, flights cancelled
The East Coast Railway zone of the Indian Railways stopped the movement of all trains on the Chennai-Howrah section from Wednesday afternoon till further orders. Some trains were cancelled too.
The railways also suspended trains bound for Srikakulam and the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) also withdrew its bus services covering the cyclone-affected areas and power supply was shut down in the wake of warnings sounded by IMD.
The Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar closed its night parking from Wednesday night. Indigo airlines cancelled five of its flights originating from Bhubaneswar.
The cancelled flights include two for Delhi, one each for Kolkata, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The incoming flights from these destinations have also been cancelled, said airport director Suresh Hota.
The Odisha government evacuated over three lakh people from five coastal districts were evacuated as a precautionary step before Cyclone Titli made a landfall.
Odisha chief secretary AP Padhi said on Wednesday all schools and colleges in the state will be shut for the next two days, and students union elections in colleges scheduled for Thursday have been cancelled.
Odisha’s special relief commissioner Bishnupada Sethi said on Wednesday that collectors of 17 of the state’s 30 districts have been put on red alert, the highest state of emergency preparedness, over the possibility of heavy to very heavy rainfall.
These districts are Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Balasore, Bhadrak, Dhenkanal, Kandhamal, Boudh, Cuttack, Jajpur, Khurda, Nayagarh, Kalahandi, Koraput and Rayagada.
The Centre also rushed nearly 1,000 National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF) personnel to Odisha, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal on Wednesday besides issuing directions for storage of food, fuel and maintaining power supply and telecommunication line.