At least four people have died on Sunday as heavy rain accompanying the cyclonic storm "Tauktae" sweeps over Kerala forcing more than 2,000 to move to 71 camps and destroying 73 villages in six districts of Karnataka.
The cyclone is "very likely" to keep moving in a north-northwest direction, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said. By late afternoon, its centre will be north-northwest of Goa, Hindustan Times reported.
Kerala recorded an average rainfall of 145.5 mm on Saturday, Chief Minister, Pinarayi Vijayan said, citing data from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), with the power and agriculture sectors reporting heavy damage, reports The Hindu.
According to the Times of India, IMD has withdrawn all red alerts and only Ernakulam, Idukki and Malappuram are on orange alert. CM Pinarayi Vijayan said 71 relief camps have been set up for 2,094 people.
Pronounced as Tau'te, the storm in Arabian Sea is expected to intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm today with wind speeds expected to touch 160 kmph by May 17 and reach Gujarat coast in the morning of 18 May.
In Karnataka, heavy rain and gales were followed by the rough sea eroding the shore. Many houses in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts were flooded.
The storm moved northwards and lay about 250 km southwest of Panjim-Goa and 620 km south-southwest of Mumbai. The Lakshwadeep Islands and the Ghat districts of Tamil Nadu also received significant rain.
Rain is expected to intensify in coastal Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat over the next 48 hours, causing damage to plantations, thatched houses and roads. Fishermen have been warned to stay off the sea. The IMD expects Tauktae to touch the Gujarat coast between Porbandar and Naliya around May 18 afternoon or evening, with wind speeds increasing to 175 kmph.
Current forecasts show heavy rain in the coastal districts of Gujarat, including extremely heavy rainfall in Junagadh and Gir Somnath and heavy to very heavy rain in Saurashtra, Kutch and Diu, Junagadh, Porbandar, Devbhoomi Dwarka, Amreli, Rajkot and Jamnagar.
The IMD also warned of storm surges that could inundate coastal areas of Morbi, Kutch, Devbhoomi Dwarka and Jamnagar districts.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 15 May reviewed the preparedness of States, central Ministries and agencies concerned and asked them to ensure all were safely evacuated.
At a meeting that included Home Minister Amit Shah, Mr. Modi directed officials 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, said a statement from the PMO.
Storms are common in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea in May, ahead of the monsoon onset though climatologists have said there is an increase in the number of such storms in the Arabian Sea in recent years.
Tauktae is the fourth cyclone in as many years over the Arabian Sea in the pre-monsoon months. This is being attributed to a rise in average sea surface temperatures driven by global warming.