On yellow alert: Heavy rainfall in tow as Fani rushes towards Bengal
Kolkata: The Alipore weather office has predicted medium to heavy rainfall in all the districts of South Bengal including Kolkata, accompanied by thunderstorm with a wind speed of around 80-90 km/h from Friday evening to Saturday evening due to the effect of the cyclone Fani, which is expected to hit the coastal belt of Bengal between May 3 midnight and May 4 morning. A yellow alert has been issued in the state.
"Cyclone Fani is expected to be extremely severe while hitting the coastal spots of Odisha like Chandbali, Gopalpur and Puri on Friday afternoon, when the wind speed will be around 170-180 km/h. Then it will gradually travel to the Northeast and in the form of a severe cyclonic storm will lash the coastal belt of Bengal at around midnight on May 3 to early morning on May 4. The wind speed at that time will be 90 to 100 km/h and can go up to a maximum of 115 km/h. It will pass over other districts of South Bengal including Kolkata, gradually weakening its speed and will cross over to Bangladesh on May 4 evening or late night. Weather conditions are expected to improve from May 5," said Sanjib Bandyopadhyay, deputy director, India Meteorological Department, Calcutta.
As per predictions of the Alipore weather office, the effects of the cyclonic storm which will be felt from the evening of Friday in South Bengal with thundershower and gusty winds, will be the worst from Friday night to Saturday evening.
The entire coastal belt of the state with districts like East Midnapore, South 24-Parganas and its adjoining districts like Hooghly, Jhargram, West Midnapore and Howrah, is expected to receive heavy rainfall particularly on Saturday.
Districts like Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, North 24-Parganas, Burdwan East and West will also receive moderate to heavy rainfall from Friday night till Saturday. "The average wind speed in the districts of South Bengal from the night of May 3 till May 4 will be around 60-70 km/h, with the coastal districts having a wind speed of around 100 km/h. Kolkata may face a wind speed of 80-90 km/h for some time during this period, which may be reaching 100 km/h at the extreme end," a senior weather official said.
North Bengal will also bear the brunt of the cyclonic storm on May 4, with heavy rainfall predicted in some parts. "There are chances of kaccha houses collapsing, trees uprooting and waterlogging in urban areas due to the effect of Fani," the official added.
With the weather office recommending total suspension of tourist activities from the evening of Thursday to May 4, popular coastal destinations like Digha, Mandarmani, Shankarpur, Bakkhali etc. wore a deserted look on Thursday, with tourists returning to their homes as the state administration sounded high alert in the coastal belt. The administration has already imposed a ban on bathing in the sea and fishermen venturing out, in the wake of the impending cyclone.
Sealdah–Puri Duronto Express, scheduled to leave Sealdah at 8:00 pm on May 3, will also remain cancelled in view of the severe cyclone. Puri-bound trains like Howrah-Puri Express, Sri Jagannath Express and Garib Rath Express have been cancelled on May 2 and 3. The trains scheduled in the opposite direction have also been cancelled. Puri-Haridwar Utkal Express, Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express, New Delhi-Puri Purushottam Express, Gunupur-Rourkela Rajya Rani Express and Rourkela-Gunupur Rajya Rani Express, all scheduled on May 2, were cancelled. Three special trains and a number of buses were arranged on Thursday to carry passengers from Puri to the city.
The last time a cyclone had passed as close to the city as Fani is tipped to, was 10 years ago on May 25, 2009, when cyclone Aila had hit the Sunderbans at a speed of 110km/h before blowing past Kolkata, wreaking havoc on its way.