Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh is bracing for the cyclonic storm Helen which is set to hit the state`s coast on Friday.
People are being evacuated from low-lying areas while authorities are taking other precautionary measures to minimize the damage from the cyclone in the Bay of Bengal.
According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), the severe cyclonic storm will cross the coast near Machillipatnam around afternoon/evening of Friday.
The IMD has issued cyclone warning to the Andhra Pradesh coast.
A bulletin by the IMD on Thursday night said Helen, over west central Bay of Bengal moved slightly west-northwestwards and lay centred at about 180 km east-southeast of Machillipatnam, 300 km east-northeast of Ongole and 180 km south-southwest of Vishakhapatnam.
It would move west by northwestwards slowly for some time, then westward and cross Andhra Pradesh coast near Machillipatnam.
Under its influence, rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy rainfall at a few places would occur over north coastal Andhra Pradesh and adjoining Guntur, Krishna, West Godavari districts of south coastal Andhra Pradesh during next 48 hours. Isolated extremely heavy falls (25cm or more) are also likely.
Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls would occur over remaining districts of south coastal Andhra Pradesh Rayalseema and Telangana on Friday and Saturday.
Squally winds speed reaching 55-65 kmph gusting to 75 kmph would prevail along and off south Andhra coast. The wind speed would gradually increase up to gale wind speed of 100-110 kmph, gusting to 120 kmph at the time of landfall.
The IMD has warned that storm surge of about 1 to 1.5m height would inundate the low lying areas of west and east Godavari Krishna, Guntur and adjoining areas of Prakasham district at the time of landfall.
Sea condition will be rough to very rough along and off south Andhra coast. Extensive damage to thatched roofs and huts and minor damage to power and communication lines was expected due to uprooting of trees.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea. The authorities have hoisted warning signals at all ports along Andhra coast.
Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy reviewed the situation in coastal districts with top officials at a meeting in Hyderabad. He directed the chief secretary to closely monitor the situation with all collectors of coastal districts to face any eventuality.
The Chief Minister also directed officials to take all pre-cautionary measures to evacuate people and animals from low-lying areas.
A control room to monitor the situation has been opened at the state secretariat in Hyderabad. The control room numbers are 040-23456005, 23451043.
Nellore District Collector N Srikant held a meeting with officials to review the situation. He said 69 habitations in 11 `mandals` were identified as low-lying and the people were being evacuated. Two teams of National Disaster response Force (NDRF) were positioned in the district.
NDRF personnel have also reached Prakasam district. The authorities had taken up evacuation of people from 28 villages to relief camps.
Heavy rains were lashing Rajahmundry and other parts of East Godavari district since Thursday morning. Tidal waves washed away a part of sea wall at Uppada, flooding the beach road and affecting the vehicular traffic.
Helen is threatening Andhra coast even as the state is yet to recover from the massive damages caused by `Phailin` and heavy rains last month.
Andhra Pradesh has nearly 1,000 km long coastline and the nine district faces cyclone threats every year, especially between September and November.