In what will come as a relief to the people of Tamil Nadu, the weak Northeast monsoon will become active from December 1, with rains expected in several parts of the state.
The meteorological department observes that a well-marked low pressure area has formed over the Bay of Bengal and is likely to concentrate into forming a depression over the next 24 hours. The depression is expected to move towards Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts bringing heavy to very heavy rainfall and strong winds on December 1 and 2.
A weather warning has been issued by the met department, with fishermen advised not to venture into the sea from November 30 onwards.
K Srikanth, a weather blogger at Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikkaalam, predicts that this system could develop into a depression or a deep depression and may make a landfall between Nagapattinam and Mahabalipuram. "Based on the present models, we can expect rain from early morning of December 1, with the system expected to cross at some time between the morning and afternoon of December 2," he says.
The forecast for heavy rains will bring back memories of the floods in Chennai and coastal Tamil Nadu last year. An overnight downpour on December 1, 2015 led to inundation in several parts of the city. Thousands had to be rescued as life came to a grinding halt in the Tamil Nadu capital. Flights were grounded after the airport was closed, trains were halted with railway lines under water and roads and highways were rendered inaccessible. The Tamil Nadu government estimated that 470 people across the state were killed during the Northeast monsoon last year.
However, residents have been urged not to panic and indulge in rumour mongering. Although heavy rains are forecast, Srikanth points out that it will not be as severe as 2015. He notes, "Last year there were spells of rain from the end of October until the end of December. Chennai had 30% excess of rainfall before the floods. This year, the state has not received as much rain. Flooding is unlikely as the lakes are not full as well."
The weather blogger, however, cautions that areas prone to waterlogging will see no change in their situation and that inundation is likely.
In contrast to last yearâ€™s devastation, the 2016 monsoon has been weak and largely inactive in most parts of Tamil Nadu. The onset of the Northeast monsoon was delayed, arriving on October 30. Based on data from the met department, Chennai has witnessed a deficit of 85% this monsoon season, while Tamil Nadu on the whole, has a deficit of 71%.