Authorities in southern India are on alert after weather officials predicted a cyclone packing winds of 68 miles per hour would hit parts of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa on the eastern coast this weekend.
The cyclone, named Roanu, which formed over the Bay of Bengal earlier this week is headed toward the eastern Andhra Pradesh and Orissa coasts where it is likely to strengthen into a severe cyclonic storm by Friday night, the Indian Meteorological Department said in a news bulletin.
The system is then likely to move in a northeasterly direction and make landfall over Bangladesh’s coast by Saturday night or early Sunday. However, the system is likely to weaken slightly and only be categorized as cyclone when it hits land.
Cyclone Roanu wreaked havoc across Sri Lanka, producing deadly flooding and mudslides. Meanwhile, intense rainfall will continue in India, elevating the flood threat the next few days.
At least 58 people have been killed in Sri Lanka with hundreds still missing following a series of mudslides. More than 130,000 families were displaced by the cyclone.
Rainfall has surpassed 300 mm (12 inches) across parts of Sri Lanka, including the capital city of Colombo. Nearly 500 mm (20 inches) has fallen in Mahailluppallama since rain began to fall over the weekend.
The main threat from Roanu is the amount of rain it is set to bring coupled with winds which are expected to reach up to 68 miles per hour over the northern coastal parts of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa in the next two days, the IMD said.
Forecasters say there could be extensive damage to thatched huts and minor damage to power and communication lines and roads in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.
The chief ministers of both states have directed authorities to be prepared for the storm by keeping food, water supplies and medical support ready as well as opening relief camps and evacuating people from vulnerable areas.
In India, cyclones aren’t new for people living near the sea. One of the most deadly was a storm that killed 15,000 people when it stuck Orissa in 1999.
The recent ones have been less destructive – in 2014, Cyclone Hudhud lashed coastal areas of southern India killing at least 8 people. In 2013, more than 20 people died and many homes were damaged after Cyclone Phailin hit India’s eastern coast.