Northern coastal Tamil Nadu witnessed light to moderate rainfall and some places heavy showers as the cyclonic storm 'Mandous' continued to move further closer to the state's coastline, and it is set to cross coast near Chennai, starting midnight, the India Meteorological Department said on Friday.
Under the influence of the cyclonic storm, several areas here and in the outskirts witnessed heavy rainfall (7 CM) and other coastal regions including Chengelpet and Nagapattinam recorded intermittent, light to moderate showers (upto 3 CM).
As many as 16,000 police personnel and 1,500 Home guards have been deployed here for security, relief and rescue tasks and a 40-member team of TN State Disaster Response Force, in addition to 12 District Disaster Response Force teams are on standby, police said.
Already, nearly 400 personnel of the NDRF and State Disaster Response Force teams have been stationed in coastal regions, including those near the Cauvery delta areas.
The IMD said Doppler weather radars are monitoring the cyclone which weakened into a cyclonic storm on December 9 after being a severe cyclonic storm for less than 24-hours and it now lay at about 180 km southeast of Mamallapuram.
Also known as Mahabalipuram, Mamallapuram is about 50 km from Chennai.
Mandous, pronounced 'man-dous' is an Arabic word and it means treasure box and the name was reportedly picked by the United Arab Emirates.
The cyclonic storm is very likely to move nearly northwestwards and cross north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts between Puducherry and Sriharikota near Mamallapuram as a cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 65-75 kmph gusting to 85 kmph, during midnight and early hours of Saturday.
Till midnight the departure of at least 13 flights from here have been cancelled.
Trains including suburban services were operated and there was some disruption in bus services in view of water logging in a string of areas.
Transport Minister SS Sivasankar said bus services would be suspended in and around Mamallapuram and the East Coast Road two hours before and after the cyclone's landfall. Buses ply as usual in coastal districts of Chennai, Chengelpet, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur, Cuddalore and Villupuram, he said.
Schools and colleges were closed in coastal regions and a holiday has been declared for educational institutions on Saturday as well.
On December 10, rainfall is likely to reduce at most places though it is expected to be heavy to very heavy at isolated areas in north interior Tamil Nadu, Rayalaseema and adjoining southern Andhra Pradesh.
Following landfall, the cyclonic storm is set to lose intensity and become a deep depression and later a depression on December 10.
"Gale wind, speed reaching 80-90 kmph gusting to 100 kmph prevails over southwest Bay of Bengal," the IMD said. It would decrease gradually becoming 70-80 kmph gusting to 90 kmph from Friday evening, 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph by December 10 early morning and 30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph by Saturday evening.
Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary V Irai Anbu chaired a meeting of senior officials and reviewed the preparatory measures.
In neighbouring Puducherry, the territorial administration declared holiday for all schools and colleges in Puducherry and Karaikal regions on Friday and Saturday after the IMD issued a cyclone warning.
Puducherry Home and Education Minister A Namassivayam said in a release that the government took note of the warning issued by the IMD that a strong cyclone would hit Puducherry and Karaikal regions under the influence of the storm in the Bay of Bengal. All schools and colleges would remain closed for two days from Friday, he added.
The Department of Revenue and Disaster Management geared up all departments concerned with relief works and deployed rescue teams to respond to any exigency.
A storm warning signal flag Number Five has been hoisted at the Puducherry port and fisherfolk had been asked not to venture into the sea.
Chief Minister N Rangasamy held discussions with officials of Revenue and Disaster Management Department officials.