Cyclone 'Phailin', which was to make landfall two days from now, possibly near Gopalpur in Odisha and in north Andhra Pradesh, on Thursday intensified into a severe cyclonic storm travelling slightly northwest and lying about 800 km from Paradip in Odisha.
The storm, 870 km from Kalingapatnam and 900 km from Visakhapatnam, would intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours, the latest IMD bulletin said.
It would continue to move northwestwards and make landfall by the evening of October 12 with a wind speed of 175-185 kmph close to Gopalpur in Odisha and between Kalingapatnam and Paradip, Director of IMD, Bhubaneswar, Sarat Sahu said.
Squally winds speed reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph would hit Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh on Friday morning, he said. It would increase in intensity with wind speeds of a gale reaching 175-185 kmph along and off coastal districts of south Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall, Sahu said.
The sea along and off Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh coast would be rough to very rough from Friday and would become 'phenomenal' on October 12, he said.
"Storm surge with height of around 1.5 to 2.0 meter above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh during landfall," Sahu said.
Asked whether there was possibility of the system turning into a super cyclone, which had struck 14 coastal districts of Odisha in October 1999 taking several lives, Sahu said, "As of now the latest satellite data says that the system will take the form of a very severe cyclonic storm and make land fall on October 12."
Issuing a warning to Odisha, Andhra Pradesh as also West Bengal, the IMD said under its influence very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall would occur over coastal Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh from October 12.
It would continue into interior Odisha and coastal areas of Gangetic West Bengal from the morning of October 13. Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over coastal areas of West Bengal from October 13, the IMD said.
The sea would be rough to very rough along and off West Bengal coast during the period, Sahu said.
The Odisha government extended its alert to six more districts of Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawrangpur and Rayagada.
Earlier 14 districts -- Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati districts were alerted.
The IMD also said that the cyclone could make extensive damage to kutcha houses and partial disruption of power and communication lines.
Minor disruption of rail and road traffic and potential threat from flying debris were also expected, it said. The IMD advised fishermen at sea along north Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal coasts to return.
The IMD suggested that from October 11 the authorities should take steps for suspension of fishing, evacuate people from coastal areas and regulate rail and road traffic.
"People in affected areas are advised to remain indoors during the cyclone's landfall," the IMD said. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who cancelled a trip to Delhi wrote to Union Defence Minister A K Antony seeking support from defence personnel, particularly the Air Force and Navy, for rescue and relief operations.
A copy of the letter was given to the home minister.
"We are fully prepared to face the eventuality," Patnaik told reporters, adding, that the state government was evaluating the situation regularly. Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro said the government cancelled puja holidays of its employees in all the 30 districts.
Patro appealed to people not to panic as the state government has taken all precautionary measures. All District Collectors have been provided satellite phones so that they could remain in touch with the government.
Image: Heavy rain lashes Andhra Pradesh as Cyclone Phalin near the coast