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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Cyclone Nilam update @ 06.00 am on 31st Oct 2012

The city is bracing for Cyclone Nilam, which is likely to bring heavy rain and gusty winds that could reach speeds up to 65kmph.   It has been raining continuously in Chennai and all parts of coastal Tamil Nadu. Not so good news - the  deep depression lying 500 km south east of Chennai has intensified into a cyclonic storm.  The intensified force now has a name -  'Nilam', [Sun TV had it as ‘Neelam’ – which in Tamil means blue; whereas Nilam in Tamil means land] as suggested by Pakistan under the cyclone naming procedure.  Nilam is expected to  move northwestwards and cross the coast between Nagapattinam and Nellore by Wednesday afternoon/evening.
bbc footage on Cyclone Nilam

This cyclone is expected to be  milder than Thane. Thane hit the coast at 160 kms per hour; Met Department expects the speed squally winds of Nilam to be around  45-55 kmph gusting to 65 kmph. In Chennai Corporation schools and community kitchens are getting ready to be used as temporary relief centres.  Schools have been declared holidays today and tomorrow, so did some Manufacturing units in the city.  Chennaiites have to brace for  heavy rains.

By 5pm on Tuesday, the cyclone was 500km southeast of Chennai. It was stationary for more than 12 hours but started moving in a north-northwesterly direction, and is likely to cross the shore between Nellore in AP and Cuddalore in TN. There are fears that at the time of landfall, the speed of wind could get close to 90kmph.  Warning signals have been put up at all ports and fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea.  Close on the heels of a review meeting chaired by Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa on October 20, all district collectors have readied relief camps for people evacuated from their houses.  A battalion of national disaster response force and two battalions of the state disaster response force are in Chennai so that they can move to any part of the state in case of a crisis.

Rains have brought good amount of water to the water bodies. According to TOI,  water level in Veeranam Lake, a prime water source for Chennai, stood at 44.8 feet as against the full capacity of 47.5 feet on Tuesday.    Here is some extract of Bulletin issued by Chennai Meteorological Department at 0500 hrs IST today – 31st Oct 2012 with the subject line : “Cyclonic storm ‘NILAM’ over southwest Bay of Bengal: Cyclone Warning for North Tamil Nadu”

The Cyclonic Storm ‘NILAM’, remained practically stationary and lay centred at 0230 hours IST of today, the 30 th October 2012 near latitude 10.00N and longitude 82.00E, about 400 km south-southeast ofChennai  and  180  km  north-northeast  of  Trincomalee  (Sri  Lanka).  The  system  would  move  north northwestwards and cross north Tamil Nadu & adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coast between Cuddalore and Nellore, near Chennai by 31st  October, 2012 evening.
Under the influence of this system, rainfall at most places with scattered heavy to very heavy falls and isolated extremely heavy falls (25 cm or more) during next 24 hrs. Rainfall at most places with isolatedheavy to very heavy falls would also occur over south coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and north Interior Tamil Nadu during next 48 hrs.

Squally winds speed reaching 50-60 kmph gusting to 70 kmph would prevail along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts during next 06 hours. The wind speed would gradually increase thereafter as the system comes closer to coast, becoming 80-90 kmph at the time of landfall. Sea condition will be very rough to high along and off north Tamil Nadu, Puduccherry and adjoining south Andhra Pradesh coasts during next 36 hours.

Storm Surge: Storm surge of about 1 -1.5 metre over the astronomical tide is likely to inundate the low lying areas of Chennai, Kanchipuram & Tiruvallur of Tamilnadu and Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh.  

Damage expected as cyclone approaches near the coast: Damage to thatched huts. Uprooting of small trees and breaking of tree branches and minor damage to power and communication lines. Storm is also expected to damage to crops like standing rice, groundnut and maize in coastal districts of Tamilnadu and rice and groundnut in coastal Andhra Pradesh.

Action Suggested: Fishermen along north Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and south Andhra Pradesh coasts are advised not to venture into the sea during next 48 hrs.
IMD - Kalpala satellite image of Nilam
If you are wondering why ‘Nilam’ and how it belongs to Pakistan - Tropical cyclones have officially been named since 1945 and are named for a variety of reasons, which include to facilitate communications between forecasters and the public when forecasts, watches, and warnings are issued. Names also reduce confusion about what storm is being described, as more than one can occur in the same region at the same time.  In the basin of North Indian Ocean (45°E – 100°E), a tropical cyclone is assigned a name when it is judged to have reached Cyclonic Storm intensity with winds of 65 km/h (40 mph). The names were selected by members of the ESCAP/WMO panel on Tropical Cyclones between 2000 and May 2004, before the Regional Specialized Meteorological Center in New Delhi started to assign names in September 2004.

While India contributed names such as : Agni, Akash, Bijli, Jal, Lehar, Megh, Sagar, Vayu; Bangladesh gave – Onil, Ogni, Nisha, Giri….; Gonu was given by Maldives;  Myanmar gave – Pyarr,  Phyan, Thane,… Oman gave – Baaz, Sidr, Murjan… Pakistan gave : Fanoos, Nargis, Laila, Nilam, Nilofar.. Sri Lanka gave Mala, Rashmi, Bandu, Priya… Thailand – Mukda, Phet… etc.,

With regards - S. Sampathkumar
31st 30th Oct 2012 @ 06:00 hrs.


  1. Great Mr Srinivasan. Nice to note the contributions of several countries christening storms.. Thank You.

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