Cyclone Vardah, which was expected to hit the coast of Andhra Pradesh until yesterday, has since changed its direction and is expected to make a landfall close to the city of Chennai in the afternoon of December 12, the IMD has said in its bulletin release at 8.30am on December 11.
The very severe cyclonic storm, moving over west-central and adjoining south Bay of Bengal moved further westwards during the past 6 hours, with a speed of 11 kmph, the release said.
At 5.30am on Sunday, it lay centred about 520 km east-southeast of Nellore, 490 km east-south-east of Machilipatnam and 480 km east-northeast of Chennai.
‚ÄúThe system is very likely to move nearly west-southwestwards and maintain its intensity upto the evening of today, the 11th December 2016. Thereafter, it is likely to weaken gradually while moving towards south Andhra Pradesh coast and adjoining north Tamil Nadu coast,‚ÄĚ the release said.
The release also said that it is ‚Äúvery likely‚ÄĚ to cross north Tamil Nadu and south Andhra Pradesh coast, close to Chennai by afternoon on Monday.
An official from the Cyclone Warning Centre in Visakhapatnam told TNM, "There is no doubt about it. The Cyclone has changed its path, and is expected to hit close to Chennai, between the city and Nellore late in the afternoon tomorrow(Monday)."
Rainfall is expected to begin in Chennai from Sunday evening, with heavy rainfall predicted for Monday afternoon and evening.
Earlier, it was reported that the Cyclone would hit the Andhra coast between Kakinada and Nellore, following which the state reviewed its preparations.
However, the MeT office still maintained that rainfall would occur in the state with heavy to very heavy rain at a few places in all the districts of coastal Andhra except Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts on Monday.
While Andhra has set up multiple emergency helplines to tackle the situation, it is still unclear as to what steps the Tamil Nadu government has taken.
At a news conference called by the Met department in Chennai on Sunday morning, Director S Balachandran confirmed the details of expected landfall of the cyclone, and said that strong winds of under 40-50km/hr were expected, which will gradually increase to 70-80km at the time of landfall.
On Sunday afternoon, the BBC's weather service forecast that the cyclone could result in rainfall of around 100-200mm, and raised the possibility that flooding could occur in the Chennai area.
The Tamil Nadu Chief Secretary called for a high-level meeting with monitoring officers and representatives of the Armed Forces at 3pm on Sunday at the Secretariat, to review preparedness for the cyclone.
On Sunday evening, the Labour Department issued an advisory to private companies in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Tiruvallur and the coastal taluks of Villupuram District, to allow employees to take leave or work from home on Monday, in view of heavy rains due to the impending cyclone.
Further details are awaited.