Associate Partner

Cyclone Ockhi weakens, could hit Gujarat only as 'depression'; evacuations still continue

Cyclone Ockhi is gradually weakening into a depression and may not hit the Gujarat coast near Surat as predicted earlier, the Meteorological Centre said in Ahmedabad on Tuesday night.

Cyclonic storm Ockhi has already turned into a "deep depression" and may hit south Gujarat only as a "depression", according to an official statement. The deep depression is located around 240 kms south-southwest of Surat.

"The deep depression over east-central Arabian Sea moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred over east-central Arabian Sea near latitude 19.4º N and longitude 71.5º E, about 240 km south-southwest of Surat and 150 km west-northwest of Mumbai," the IMD forecast said.

"It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards, weaken further and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a depression by tonight (5th December 2017)," the bulletin read. However, there is also a probability of dissipation of the system over the sea before the landfall due to unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface temperatures near the coast, it added.

The Indian Express, however, reported that over 3,200 people were evacuated from 29 coastal villages in Surat district as a precaution against cyclone Ockhi. Pankaj Kumar, Principal Secretary of Gujarat Revenue Department, was quoted as saying by the report, "The administration has deployed two NDRF teams in Surat and one each in Navsari, Valsad, Bhavnagar and Amreli. The air force, army, navy, coast guard, BSF — all have been put on alert."

The rains will however continue in parts of Gujarat as the forecast says Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Diu, Daman, Dadra, Nagar Haveli districts are very likely to receive light to moderate rainfall till morning on 6 December, reports India Today. North Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh are also very likely to see similar rainfall patterns till Wednesday noon.

Maharashtra's Palghar, Thane, Raigarh, Greater Mumbai, Dhule, Nandurbar, Nashik, Jalgaon, Ahmednagar and Pune districts are likely to get light to moderate rainfall till morning on 6 December.

Regional IMD officials said the cyclone had already weakened into a deep depression.

 Cyclone Ockhi weakens, could hit Gujarat only as depression; evacuations still continue

Representational image. PTI

"The cyclone has already weakened into a deep depression and it is highly likely that it will turn into a depression. There are possibilities that it does not hit the coast at all and, as there is a probability of dissipation over the sea before the landfall," Jayanta Sarkar, director of the MeT office in Ahmedabad, said. "The system weakened mainly because of unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface near the coast. The system weakened because it is winter. The story would have been different had it occurred during the monsoon or pre-monsoon season," he said.

The IMD release said that the deep depression would bring light to moderate rain in several parts of state for the next three days as the sea condition would remain rough for the next 18 hours. The MeT Centre cautioned fishermen from venturing into the sea for the next 18 hours.

After causing rains in Mumbai, Cyclone Ockhi was likely to make a landfall near Surat. Several top political leaders were forced to cancel their rallies in the poll-bound state, which experienced showers. Although the cyclone has weakened, the state administration has made all the preparation to meet any eventuality.

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani travelled to Surat and took a review meeting of preparations to deal with the situation. Around 1,600 people have been shifted to safer places in Surat, officials said adding that the security forces — NDRF, BSF, Army, Navy, Coast Guard have been alerted to take all necessary steps.

With inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Dec 06, 2017 08:02:49 IST