After leaving a trail of destruction in the southern coast, Cyclone Ockhi is expected to make landfall in coastal Gujarat tomorrow midnight with squally winds, which may cause heavy rains in several parts of the state during the next two days.
An India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast said, "The severe cyclonic storm Ockhi is now laid centred about 850 km south-southwest of Surat and is likely to cross south Gujarat and adjoining North Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by mid-night of December 5."
Following the IMD prediction, Gujarat Chief Secretary J N Singh today took stock of the administrative preparedness to deal with any eventuality.
Revenue department's Principal Secretary Pankaj Kumar told reporters in Gandhinagar that the authorities concerned in the coastal region of the state have been directed to take all precautionary measures.
The officer said the Army, Navy, and the Border Security Force (BSF) have been alerted in the view of the cyclone's landfall.
"According to the IMD forecast, Cyclone Ockhi would enter south Gujarat tomorrow midnight. This will the impact coastal areas from Umargam (in south Gujarat) till Gir Somnath district (in Saurashtra).
"We have directed local civic officials as well as the collectors to remain prepared and take all necessary steps for the safety of the people," Kumar said.
The principal secretary said collectors of the coastal districts have been asked to ensure that fishermen do not venture into the sea as it will remain rough.
"Those fishermen who have already gone into sea should return now. Many such fishermen are already on their way to the coast," he said.
Kumar said according to the IMD forecast, wind velocity would remain between 50 KMPH to 70 KMPH when the cyclone would make landfall.
In view of the adverse weather conditions, the RoRo ferry service between Ghogha and Dahej across the Gulf of Khambhat has been suspended. The service, inaugurated recently by Prime
Minister Narendra Modi, would resume on December 6 subject if the weather conditions are suitable.
According to the IMD, Gujarat is very likely to experience a wet spell during the next four days.
"Heavy rainfall might occur in Valsad, Surat, Navsari, Bharuch, Dang, Tapi, Amreli, Gir-Sonath and Bhavnagar districts on December 5," it said.
In a port warning issued here, the MeT Centre said, "Sea condition would be rough. Fishermen (have been) advised not to venture into the sea till December 6. Hoist Distant Warning Signal Number 2 at all ports".
According to an official release, Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani held an urgent meeting with senior officials to take stock of the preparedness.
During the meeting, he was apprised that as many as 50 boats from Kerala had drifted towards Gujarat's Veraval coast due to the cyclone, it said.
On the other hand, the Maharashtra government has declared a holiday for schools and colleges in Mumbai and adjoining districts tomorrow due to "serious weather predictions" in view of Cyclone Ockhi.
An official at the Mumbai office of India Meteorological Department said on account of the cyclone, the megapolis has started receiving rainfall due to spread of clouds.
The disaster management unit of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) has issued an advisory against visiting beaches in view of the high tide alert issued for tonight and tomorrow morning due to the cyclone.
"Precautionary holiday declared on 5/12/17 for schools and colleges in Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Sindhudurg, Thane, Raigad and Palghar Districts for the safety of the students due to the serious weather predictions on Cyclone Ockhi," state Education Minister Vinod Tawde tweeted.
According to the IMD official, a warning of heavy rainfall was issued in north Konkan and north Madhya Maharashtra.
"The centre of the cyclone is around 600 km from Mumbai but its cloud band has spread along the coastal areas. Hence, light rainfall has started in Mumbai. The intensity of rains will increase as the cyclone approaches," the official said.
He said as the cyclone approaches Maharashtra, the clouds would become denser and wind velocity would increase.
"We are expecting wind velocity of around 50-60 km per hour over the next two days," the official said, adding that in view of the cyclone, the IMD has forecast a drop in maximum temperatures by two to three degrees and a drop in minimum temperatures by about one to two degrees.