Yet another cyclonic storm – this one named Helen – is brewing in the Bay of Bengal and is expected to hit the Andhra Pradesh coast by this evening.
"The cyclonic storm will cross Andhra Pradesh coast near Machillipatnam around afternoon and (today)," the India Meteorological Department said in New Delhi this morning. Heavy rainfall is already lashing the region.
The head of IMD's cyclone warning division Mrutunjay Mohapatra said Helen, centered in west central Bay of Bengal, moved slightly west-north-westwards and was moving up from about 200 km south-southwest of Vishakhapatnam. It would move west-northwestwards for some time, then westward and cross Andhra Pradesh coast near Machillipatnam.
Heavy rains accompanied by strong gales are lashing Krishna, Visakhapatnam, West Godavari and some other parts of the coastal region since early Friday. Authorities have declared a holiday for educational institutions.
Squally winds speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph would prevail along and off south Andhra coast. The wind speed would gradually increase up to gale wind speed of 100-110 kmph, gusting to 120 kmph at the time of landfall, the IMD said.
Six National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been rushed to Ongole, Kavali, Guntur and Krishna. They have been alerted to be on standby to rush to other districts on request of collectors, said an official NDRF spokesperson.
Under the influence of the cyclone there would be very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (25cm or more) over coastal AP during next 48 hours.
The IMD has warned that storm surge of about 1 to 1.5 m height would inundate the low lying areas of west and east Godavari Krishna, Guntur and adjoining areas of Prakasham district at the time of landfall.
Sea conditions will be rough to very rough along and off the south Andhra coast. Extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts and minor damage to power and communication lines is expected.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea. The authorities have hoisted warning signals at all ports along Andhra coast.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who reviewed the situation in coastal districts with top officials at a meeting in Hyderabad on Thursday, has directed the chief secretary to closely monitor the situation with all collectors of coastal districts to face any eventuality.
Krishna district collector Raghunandan Rao said a holiday was declared for all educational institution in coastal areas.
He said 10 relief camps were opened for people evacuated from low-lying areas. Sixty personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) were deployed for rescue and relief operations.
Helen is threatening the Andhra coast even as the state is yet to recover from the massive damages caused by Cyclone Phailin and heavy rains in October.
Andhra Pradesh has a nearly 1,000 km long coastline and the nine district faces cyclone threats every year, especially between September and November.