Cyclone Tauktae (pronounced Tau’te) intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm on the morning of Sunday, May 16. According to the Indian Meteorological Department’s bulletin at 7.30 am on May 16, the cyclone has moved northwards with a speed of about 11 kmph in the past six hours and is currently centred over the Arabian sea about 130 km west-southwest of Panjim-Goa, 450 km south of Mumbai and 700 km south-southeast of Veraval in Gujarat.
“It is very likely to intensify during the next 24 hours. It is very likely to move north-northwestwards and reach Gujarat coast in the evening hours of May 17 and cross Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Mahuva (Bhavnagar district) early morning on May 18,” the IMD bulletin said.
The storm is likely to bring more rains to Kerala, which is expected to witness light to moderate rainfall at many places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places on May 16, Sunday and heavy falls at isolated places on May 17, Monday. Karnataka (coastal and adjoining Ghat districts) will see light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places on May 16.
In Konkan and Goa, light to moderate rainfall is predicted at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at a few places over Konkan and Goa and adjoining Ghat areas on May 16 and heavy falls at isolated places on May 17 over north Konkan areas. The IMD has issued an ‘orange alert' which means heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely over entire Konkan and hilly areas of western Maharashtra, mainly Kolhapur and Satara on Sunday and Monday.
The cyclone is likely to cause heavy rainfall in the coastal districts of Gujarat, including extremely heavy falls in Junagadh and Gir Somnath and heavy to very heavy rain at a few places in the districts of Saurashtra, Kutch and Diu, namely Gir Somnath, Diu, Junagadh, Porbandar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Amreli, Rajkot, Jamnagar, the IMD said. The Western Railway said it has cancelled 56 trains either originating or terminating in Gujarat's Saurashtra region as a precaution.
Heavy rains were reported in Maharashtra's coastal Ratnagiri district on Saturday, said K S Hosalikar, head SID, Climate Research and Services, IMD, Pune. Mumbai can expect showers from Sunday afternoon, said Shubhani Bhute, senior director (weather) IMD, Mumbai.
In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reviewed the preparedness of states, central ministries and agencies concerned to deal with the situation arising out of Cyclone Tauktae and asked them to take every possible measure to ensure that people are safely evacuated.
He also called for ensuring maintenance of all essential services such as power, telecommunications, health and drinking and their immediate restoration in the event of damages caused to them, a statement said.
At the high-level meeting which was attended by Home Minister Amit Shah and top officials concerned, Modi directed them to ensure special preparedness on COVID management in hospitals, vaccine cold chain and other medical facilities on power back up and storage of essential medicines and to plan for unhindered movement of oxygen tankers, the PMO said.
Teams of the National Disaster Response Force are being stationed at Gir Somnath, Amreli, Porbandar, Dwarka, Jamnagar, Rajkot, Kutch, Morbi, Surat, Gandhinagar, Valsad, Bhavnagar, Navsari, Bharuch and Junagarh districts of Gujarat, an NDRF spokesperson said. The Indian Air Force said it has kept 16 transport aircraft and 18 helicopters in readiness to deal with the situation that could arise out of cyclone Tauktae.
"The state government has made full preparations and a control room has been set up. Administrations of the districts in Saurashtra and south Gujarat regions, which are likely to be affected by the cyclone, have been alerted. Teams of the NDRF are reaching the state," Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani told reporters in Banaskantha district earlier.
The Union Home Ministry in an advisory to the Gujarat government said the "very severe cyclonic storm" is likely to cause damage to thatched houses, roads, power and communication lines especially in the districts of Saurashtra region such as Devbhoomi Dwarka, Kutch, Porbandar, Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Jamnagar, Amreli, Rajkot and Morbi.
"Sea condition is likely to be very rough to high over the northwest Arabian sea along and off south Gujarat coast from May 17 morning, and very high to phenomenal from May 18 morning. Tidal wave of about 2-3 metres above astronomical tide is likely to inundate coastal areas of Morbi, Kutch, Devbhoomi Dwarka and Jamnagar district, and 1-2 metres along Porbandar, Junagadh, Gir Somnath, Amreli, Bhavnagar, and 0.5-1 metre over the remaining coastal districts of Gujarat," the advisory said.
The Home Ministry advised total suspension of fishing operations over the northwest Arabian sea and along and off the Gujarat coast on May 17 and 18.
In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray directed the authorities in coastal districts to remain alert. Collectors of Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg districts have been asked to take all necessary precautions, Thackeray said at a meeting of the Disaster Management Authority.
(With PTI inputs)