Ahead of Cyclone Jawad, Odisha preps for evacuation, shuts schools

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The Odisha government on Friday ordered closure of schools in 19 out of the state’s 30 districts and asked all government officials to report for duty on Sunday ahead of Cyclone Jawad. It also sent directives to district collectors in Ganjam, Puri, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Khordha and Kendrapara to start evacuating people living in low-lying areas and those living in kutcha houses after the India Meteorological Department predicted that cyclonic storm Jawad is likely to make landfall in Puri on December 5.

The cyclonic storm with wind speed ranging between 90 and 100 kmph, lay over westcentral Bay of Bengal about 480 km south-southwest of Puri, as it continued to move north-north-westwards with a speed of 20 kmph.

Pronounced as Jowad (Arabic for horse), the deep depression developed into a cyclonic circulation over west-central and adjoining south Bay of Bengal at 11.30 am on Friday and lay at around 700 km south-southwest of Paradip. Later in the evening, it continued to move north-westwards.

“The storm will move north-westwards and reach north Andhra Pradesh–south Odisha coasts by the morning of December 4. Thereafter it would recurve north-northeastwards and move along the Odisha coast and reach Puri around December 5 noon,” said Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of IMD. Met officials estimated that Cyclone Jawad will make landfall to the south of Puri at around 11:30 am on Sunday.

If Cyclone Jawad makes landfall in Puri, this would be the second cyclone in the last two and half years to strike the coastal district. On May 3, 2019 very severe cyclonic storm Fani hit Puri with wind speed of 200 kilometres per hour affecting about 16.5 million people in Puri, Khorda and Cuttack districts that left 64 dead. An estimated 3.6 lakh houses were damaged in about 18,000 villages.

Special Relief Commissioner Pradeep Jena said as per IMD’s forecasted track, the cyclone may just brush the Odisha coast near Puri or it may slightly enter the landmass. “However, the Odisha government has prepared itself for possible landfall in Ganjam or Puri or Jagatsinghpur and readied the response measures accordingly. At the time of landfall or when it passes close to the coast, the associated wind speed will be 80 to 90 kmph, gusting to 100 kmph.”

After making landfall, the system will pass over Jagatsinghpur and adjoining Kendrapara districts and then re-emerge into the northwest Bay of Bengal before the weakened system heads for West Bengal.

Jena said Sunday’s weekly-off for all govt employees had been cancelled and officials directed not to leave headquarters. Those on leave have been asked to cancel their leave and join duty as early as possible. The government also cancelled the popular Konark Festival and International Sand Art Festival that began on December 1. The UGC/NET examination scheduled to be held on December 3 and 4 has been postponed in Odisha and adjoining Andhra Pradesh in view of the cyclone.

All 6077 boats from the state that had gone out to sea for fishing have returned to shore. The authorities of Krushnaprasad block in Puri district announced the closure of all ghats across Chilika Lake till December 6.

Ahead of the cyclonic storm, NDRF has mobilised 64 teams, state fire services have prepared 172 teams for the coastal districts of Ganjam, Gajapati, Puri, Khordha, Cuttack, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Jajpur, Bhadrak and Balasore. “We have additional forces on standby to send if any district faces severe damages due to the cyclonic storm,” said Bhagirathi Ghadei, Chief Fire Officer, Cuttack.

Met officials said from December 4 morning, very heavy rainfall will start in Odisha’s Ganjam district with an estimated 10 cm rain in over 24 hours. From December 4 night, very heavy rain will start in Puri district with weather officials estimating 10-20 cm rainfall during the night hours. The wind speed will be gusting at around 90-100 kmph from about midnight till Sunday morning.

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