Helen likely to strike Krishna coast today
Deccan Chronicle| kruthi gonwar
Helen will cross the Andhra coast today afternoon or evening and bring with it heavy rainfall.
Hyderabad: The cyclonic storm Helen will cross the Andhra coast on Friday afternoon or evening and bring with it extreme to very heavy rainfall.
During the course of the day, the cyclone moved further and now lies about 180 km east-southeast of Machilipatnam.
It is likely to move westwards and cross the Andhra Pradesh coast near Machilipatnam around afternoon or evening of Friday, November 22.
Under the influence of Helen, heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places and isolated extremely heavy rainfall (25 cm or more) is likely to occur over coastal Andhra Pradesh during the next 48 hours, commencing from Thursday night.
Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall will occur in Rayalaseema and Telangana on Friday. South Odisha is also likely to receive moderate rainfall during the next 48 hours.
Squally winds with speeds reaching 55-65 kmph, gusting to 75 kmph, would prevail along and off the south Andhra Pradesh coast commencing from Thursday evening.
Speeds will gradually increase to 100-110 kmph, gusting to 120 kmph at the time of landfall over Guntur, Krishna, East and West Godavari districts.
The sea condition will be rough along and off central parts of coastal AP and very high from Friday morning.
State braces for Helen’s fury
For the second time in six weeks, coastal Andhra Pradesh hunkered down for a cyclone that is expected to cross the coast on Friday. Officials have stocked up cyclone shelters and are ready to move people to safer areas ahead of the cyclone’s landfall. NDRF personnel are being deployed in vulnerable areas
But the possible damage to paddy crop that is at the harvesting stage across the districts is worrying. Officials are advising farmers to cover the paddy that has been already harvested.
On October 11, Cyclone Phailin had veered off towards Odisha. The state may not be as lucky this time. Cyclone Helen developed from the remnants of Tropical Storm Podul that had killed about 40 persons in Vietnam on November 16.
Krishna: This district is expected to be the worst hit as Cyclone Helen cro-sses the coast near Machilipatnam. Officials have made ready 127 of the 181 cyclone shelters. At other areas, school buildings have been converted into shelters. People would be evacuated to safer areas from low-lying areas. Ration, generators and ot-her road clearing machinery were being kept ready. Doctors have been instructed to stay at the primary health centres.
East Godavari: Nine-teen fishermen were stranded in the rough seas. The Coast Guard and marine police are trying to reach them. Officials said they may be rescued by Friday morning.
High waves breached the beach road between Kakinada and U. Kothapalli near Uppada; the retention wall was smashed to bits. Traffic has been stopped on the road. It was reported that the sea had surged 20 metres, and the waves were measuring up to 10 metres.
At the anchorage port, the cargo operations were suspended due to the rough sea conditions.
West Godavari: Thirty-seven villages in eight mandals have been identified as vulnerable. Collec-tor Siddarth Jain advised farmers to cover the harvested paddy crops dumped on the fields with tarpaulin sheets to protect them from rain.
Ongole: Turbulent seas forced fishermen living along the 102-km coastline of the district to move their boats to safety. This district as drenched in heavy rain last month. The district is still on alert because of the likelihood of heavy rain and strong gales.
Nellore: There was big relief at Kavali, where Cyclone Helen was originally supposed make landfall before it shifted northwards. However, the cyclone alert is in place all along the coastal areas. People along the coastal regions have been told that they would be evacuated in case the cyclone heads towards Nellore. The sea off Nellore was turbulent but there was no rain; indeed, the city recorded a high of 33.2C.
Next: SCR on high alert
Hyderabad: Extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts, minor damage to power and communication lines due to uprooting of large avenue trees and flooding of roads and bylanes is expected.
"Storm surge of about 1 to 1.5 metre height above astronomical tide could inundate low-lying areas of Guntur, Krishna, West and East Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall," a release by the meteorological department stated.
The South Central Railway is on high alert and P.K. Srivastava, general manager of the SCR reviewed the situation at Rail Nilayam and asked officials to initiate measures to face any situation arising out of the cyclone.
The SCR has opened emergency control rooms at Rail Nilayam, Secunderabad, and also in divisional head offices in Vijayawada, Guntur and Guntakal divisions. A multi-disciplinary team of officers drawn from various departments will man these emergency control rooms round-the-clock to closely monitor the field conditions and initiate appropriate action as required.
The railway track in the coastal region that is likely to be affected is being patrolled on foot by the SCR engineering staff, stationary watchmen are on guard at identified vulnerable locations like bridges to keep a continuous watch on the safety of railway track structure. Engineering material trains loaded with sand, boulders and quarry dust are ready for immediate mobilisation in case of need.