With fear gripping people in Odisha at the approach of severe cyclonic storm 'Phailin' to Gopalpur on October 12 where it would make landfall, the IMD today affirmed it would not be a super cyclone.
"Do not compare the present system with the super cyclone of 1999. We expect Phailin will make landfall with a wind speed at about 175 kmph to 185 kmph. But in case of a super cyclone, the speed is much more," IMD's cyclone warning division chief Dr Mrutunjay Mohapatra told PTI over phone. He said the system which has a wind speed of above 220 kmph is considered a super cyclone. But in case of Phailin, the expected wind speed is limited within 185 kmph. The IMD also said that rain, whether heavy or very heavy would begin from Saturday morning. "We do not expect much rainfall before Saturday," IMD director, Sarat Sahu said, adding that the rains would progress to interior Odisha and coastal areas of Gangetic West Bengal from October 13.
It would also rain, heavily in some areas, over north coastal Andhra Pradesh from October 12 and isolated heavy to very heavy over coastal areas of West Bengal from October 13. Revenue and Disaster Management minister S N Patro also appealed to the people not to panic.
Meanwhile, people across the coastal region comprising 15 districts were in the grip of fear. People in the state capital and other places began stocking up food, candles and matchboxes while a large number of labourers fled from the port town of Paradip. "I purchased a candle for Rs 15 while it was earlier priced at Rs 5," said one Gobind Pradhan.
It would increase in intensity with wind speeds of a gale reaching 175-185 kmph along and off coastal districts of south Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh at the time of landfall.
The sea along and off Odisha and north Andhra Pradesh coast would be rough to very rough from tomorrow and would become 'phenomenal' on October 12, he said.
"Storm surge with height of around 1.5 to 2.0 meter above astronomical tide would inundate low lying areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur districts of Odisha and Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh during landfall," Sahu said.
Asked whether there was a possibility of the system turning into a super cyclone, which had struck 14 coastal districts of Odisha in October 1999 taking many lives, Sahu said, "As of now the latest satellite data says that the system will take the form of a very severe cyclonic storm and make landfall on October 12."
Issuing a warning to Odisha, Andhra Pradesh as also West Bengal, the IMD said under its influence very heavy to extremely heavy rainfall would occur over coastal Odisha and north coastal Andhra Pradesh from October 12.
It would continue into interior Odisha and coastal areas of Gangetic West Bengal from the morning of October 13.
Isolated heavy to very heavy rainfall would occur over coastal areas of West Bengal from October 13, the IMD said.
The sea would be rough to very rough along and off West Bengal coast during the period, Sahu said.
The Odisha government extended its alert to six more districts of Kandhamal, Kalahandi, Koraput, Malkangiri, Nawrangpur and Rayagada.
Earlier 14 districts -- Balasore, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Cuttack, Kendrapara, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati districts were alerted.
The state government has cancelled puja holidays of all employees.