Cyclone Bulbul, which has gained strength and intensified into a very severe cyclonic storm over Bay of Bengal, is likely to hit West Bengal by Saturday midnight or Sunday, bringing in heavy rain and gusts of up to 135 kmph in coastal areas, said the Met Department on Friday.
The state government has put all districts, specially those in coastal areas, on alert to deal with a possible flood-like situation.
As per Meteorological Department, the “very severe cyclonic storm” Bulbul over west central and adjoining east central Bay of Bengal moved northwards with a speed of 13 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred over west central and adjoining east central Bay of Bengal. “It is very likely to intensify further till early morning of November 9 and move nearly northwards. Thereafter, it is likely to re-curve northeastwards and cross West Bengal-Bangladesh coasts between Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and Khepupara (Bangladesh), across Sunderban delta, around midnight of November 9 as a severe cyclonic storm with maximum sustained wind speed of 110-120 kmph gusting to 135 kmph,” read a statement issued by G K Das, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, in Kolkata.
Meanwhile, Kolkata received moderate rain throughout Friday. Weathermen said the severe cyclonic storm lay centred 600 km south off Kolkata on Friday morning.
Das said Kolkata, along with several places in Bengal, is expected to experience heavy to very heavy rainfall with gusts of up to 70 km per hour on November 9 and 10.
According to India Meteorological Department (IMD), light to moderate rain was likely at many places over the coastal districts of West Bengal on Friday, with heavy rain at one or two areas.
The intensity of showers is very likely to increase on November 9 with heavy to very heavy rain at a few places and extremely heavy rain at one or two places in North and South 24 Parganas, East and West Midnapore, Kolkata, Howrah and Hooghly, said the IMD.
As per the Weather Department, sea condition will be rough to very rough along and off Odisha and West Bengal coasts.
“Sea condition will be rough to very rough over north Bay of Bengal till the evening of today (Friday), the 8th November. It will gradually become very high to phenomenal over northwest & adjoining westcentral Bay of Bengal from the evening of today, the 8th November, for subsequent 36 hours and very rough to very high over northeast Bay of Bengal from 9th November morning for subsequent 36 hours. Sea condition is phenomenal over westcentral and adjoining eastcentral Bay of Bengal around the system centre. It will be phenomenal to very high over these areas for subsequent 24 hours,” read the Weather Department statement.
The fishermen out at sea have already been advised to return to coasts.
The weatherman has asked the Bengal administration to suspend ferry boat service on November 9 and 10 in Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly, East and West Midnapore districts. It suggested that coastal hutment dwellers be moved to safer places.
The Met also asked tourists in seaside resort towns along the West Bengal coast not to indulge in any water-based activity from the evening of November 8.
The Weather Department apprehended major damage in coastal districts of West Bengal.
“Major damage is expected to thatched houses/huts, rooftops, unattached metal sheets, damage to power and communication lines, kutcha and pucca roads. Trees may get uprooted in large numbers. There could be damage to coastal crops, small boats, country crafts may get detached from morning,” said the Weather Department.
The state government said it has taken all precautionary measures to deal with any situation. The district administrations and police have been asked to keep a tab on the situation and be prepared for any contingency.
All government schools in seven districts - Kolkata, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, Jhargram, Howrah, South 24 Parganas and North 24 Parganas - will remain closed on Saturday, declared the state government.
The district administrations have been asked to ensure a total suspension of fishing operations from Friday. Farmers have been advised to take steps to protect crops.
Government sources said they have been asked to remove all hoardings from buildings. The leaves and weekend off of all civic and Nabanno staff have been cancelled.
A monitoring cell has been opened at Nabanno, the state secretariat, to keep an eye on the situation.
“All steps are being taken to deal with cyclone Bulbul and ensure there is minimum casualty and damage,” said an official at Nabanno.