The 1994 cyclone touched wind speeds of 65kmph, while the 2012 Cyclone Nilam hit 75kmph.

Cyclone Vardah possibly the most powerful to hit Chennai yetTwitter/ vbzu
news Cyclone Vardah Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 16:35

“It’s a miracle that the casualties are so less,” says weather blogger K Srikanth a day after Cyclone Vardah crossed the Chennai coast.  Gusting at a speed of 140kmph, Cyclone Vardah, he says, is the most powerful cyclone to hit the Chennai coast.

While comparisons have been made with the 1994 cyclone that hit Chennai, the weather blogger at Chennaiyil Oru Mazhaikkaalam argues the Vardah was the strongest that the city has witnessed. 

An IMD report from 1994 shows that the cyclone that eye of the storm passed through the city of Madras between 1am and 2am on October 31, recording a maximum windspeed of 132kmph and rainfall of between 10cm to 36cm in various stations. The cyclone created havoc in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, killing 235 and 69 persons respectively.  The storm caussed widespread damage to houses, roads, and crops. 

At wind speeds of 140kmph and a maximum of 37cm of rainfall (Satyabhama University, Kanchipuram), Vardah, in comparison, has left four people dead, and uprooted 3384 trees, and suspended flight and train services. 

Cyclone Nilam, which made landfall in Mahabalipuram on October 31, 2012, had recorded a maximum wind speed of 75kmph. Although Nilam spared Chennai, it left behind a trail of destruction, killing 12 people, and leaving thousands displaced.  

While IMD had initially predicted that Cyclone Vardah would hit Andhra Pradesh, the meteorological department on Sunday forecast that the system would cross Chennai, giving officials just over 24 hours to prepare for the storm. “Vardah was in fact reclassified as a very severe cyclone in the last alert before it made landfall,” notes Srikanth. Given the scale of destruction, with over 3300 trees uprooted and 3400 fallen electric poles, he notes that state officials together with the media did a good job in information dissemination. 

But given that 2016 is a La Nina year and with the monsoon expected to extend until Pongal, the weather blogger says there could be other weather disturbances this season. “Although models show a disturbance in the Bay of Bengal, it is too early to predict whether it will evolve into a depression. Weather conditions have changed after the crossing of cyclone Vardah. But it is best to wait and watch before we hit the panic button,” Srikanth observes.