Heavy rain hammered coastal Tamil Nadu today as a depression in the Bay of Bengal turned into a cyclonic storm called Cyclone Ockhi about 60 km from the southern tip of the state. With the cyclone headed west towards Lakshadweep, it is unlikely to make a landfall in Tamil Nadu, the weather office said. Schools in seven districts of the state including Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, Virudhunagar were closed. In Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari, strong winds uprooted trees, snapped power lines and damaged settlements close to the sea. Heavy showers are likely to continue for the next 24 hours.
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Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force or NDRF - with about 60 personnel - have been sent to Tamil Nadu's Kanyakumari. Another team of 47 will be on standby in Kochi in Kerala to help out in Lakshadweep if needed.
Very heavy rain is forecast for south Tamil Nadu and south Kerala over the next 24 hours. Stormy winds can touch 65-75 kmph in south Tamil Nadu and 50-60 kmph in the northern part of the state, the Indian Meteorological Department or IMD said.
Chennai received up to 6 cm of rain between 8:30 last night and 8:30 this morning.
Besides Tamil Nadu, heavy rainfall has also been forecast in Lakshadweep and South Kerala. Winds between 55 to 75 kmph are likely over south Kerala and Lakshadweep islands.
Fishermen have been advised not to venture into the sea along and off south Tamil Nadu, south Kerala coasts and Lakshadweep islands. Sea conditions are expected to be very rough in the area, the weather office said.
Thunderstorms along with lightning are very likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu and Kerala, it said.
The weather office has also predicted dense fog in places in Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Tripura.
The weather office said that heavy rain was likely to continue at a few places in south Tamil Nadu, south Kerala, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar islands tomorrow. Sea conditions are expected to remain rough as well.
Heavy rains in Tamil Nadu earlier this month had sparked chaos, reviving fears of a repeat of the 2015 floods that killed more than 400 people, displaced lakhs and damaged property worth thousands of crores.
At least 12 people were killed and thousands of people took shelter in relief camps following heavy rainfall and storm in the first week of November.