Cyclonic storm Nada, formed in the Southwest Bay of Bengal, crossed the coastal area near Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu
in the early morning of December 2 and weakened further, much to the relief of people living in the Northern districts of the state.
Occuring precisely a year after a deep depression flooded most of Chennai and nearby districts in Tamil Nadu, Nada was feared to once again affect the lives of people in the districts of Cuddalore, Nagapattinam and Chennai.
was identified and named Nada a few days ago, and the weather department had warned it could bring with it heavy rainfall in the northern parts of the state and some parts of Puducherry as well.
No impact on public transportation or casualties were reported, while fishermen stayed away from the sea for three to four days at a stretch. The state government has asked all district collectors and officials to take necessary arrangements and be prepared round the clock.
While the city experienced intermittent rains on Thursday, on the day the storm hit the coastal area, no rains were reported in Chennai, though the sky was cloudy. The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in its alert on Friday said that isolated heavy rainfall is likely over north interior Tamil Nadu
and Kerala during the day.
Light to moderate rainfall at many places is also likely over coastal Tamil Nadu
and Puducherry during next 12 hours. The department, in the forenoon, said wind speed could be 40-60 kmph along and off Tamil Nadu
and Puducherry coasts during next 12 hours. Sea conditions will be rough along and off the Tamil Nadu
and Puducherry coast and fishermen have been advised not to venture out.
Given the previous bitter experience with the disaster management exercise, the state government responded quickly this time and took steps such as setting up of an emergency number for the public and issuing dos and don'ts to be followed in case of a heavy downpour. This year, the government also conducted repeated review meetings on measures to avoid yet another flood in these districts, especially the capital city of Chennai. Schools remained closed for the second day, while offices and other businesses were operating normally.
The government has alerted all district collectors to take precautionary measures and necessary action, including evacuation of people from low-lying and vulnerable areas to relief centres, if required. Two teams of National
Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and one team of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) are being pre-positioned in Cuddalore and one each in Nagapattinam and Chennai to meet out any eventuality, it said.
Memories of a flood-hit Chennai
A year ago, on December 1 and 2, Chennai was flooded in a deluge, with rainfall more than what it has received in 24 hours on any day since 1901. On December 2, 2015, various parts of Chennai reported extremely heavy rainfall, between 35-50 cm. The central government had declared the rain as a disaster.
Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa’s) Integrated Multi-Satellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM (IMERG) said that in areas, there were total rainfall of 400 millimeters during the 48-hour period on December 1 and 2. Nasa
further states that according to Hal Pierce, a scientist on the GPM team at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center, the highest rainfall total exceeded 500 mm (20 inches) in an area just off the southeastern coast.
It added that experts in India and abroad attributed the rains to a super-charged northeast monsoon. Generally, the coastal eastern India receives 50 to 60 per cent of its yearly rainfall during the monsoon from September to December. However, this pattern was amplified by record-warm seas and by the long-distance effects of El Niño, said Nasa
"The city of Chennai recorded 1218.6 millimeters (47.98 inches) of rain in November 2015, according to Weather Underground blogger Bob Henson," it said.
According to a rapid assessment report on the floods by experts from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras and other national
institutions, the devastating floods of November-December, 2015 had claimed more than 400 lives and caused enormous economic damages. Most parts of the city saw water logging, washing away houses and several lives along with the valuables from residence and industrial areas. Hundreads of small and medium industries were affected since rain inundated their machinery and documents. Power supply and telecom connections were affected during the flood, increasing the troubles in rescue and rehabilitation.
Reports quoting UK reinsurance broker Aon Benfield suggested that the Chennai floods was the eighth-most expensive natural disaster to have hit the world in 2015. India suffered a $3 billion loss to its economy from severe rainfall and flooding in November and early December, the company said in its monthly report on global catastrophes. More than 1,00,000 structures were damaged as a result of inundation across the two nations. Initial estimates by Assocham was that the loss in factories and business could be around Rs 15,000 crore. The encroachments into the waterbodies by real estate developers intensified the rain, which was the highest in over 100 years.
The central government and the state government came up with financial assistance and other supports to bring back lives to normal, though it was a long process. The impact was severe in the other districts, including Cuddalore and Nagapattinam, which are affected generally during the winter monsoon season, which is also known for cyclonic storms.
Rains lower in 2016
This year, Chennai is experiencing a 79 per cent shortage of rainfall during the monsoon.
According to a report by the India Meteorological Department (IMD), from October 1, 2016 till December 2, Tamil Nadu
has received 115 mm rainfall as against a normal rainfall of 361 mm, marking a departure of 68 per cent from the normal. Puducherry has received 124.8 mm of actual rain as against the normal 697.2 mm, with a departure of 82 per cent from the normal rainfall during the period. Chennai has received 137.2 mm rain, as against the normal of 649.3 mm during the same period.
The total storage in the water reservoirs in Chennai is 829 million cubic feet, as compared to 10,173 million cubic feet during the same day last year.