The cyclonic storm Vardah turned into a severe cyclone, the National Disaster Management Authority tweeted on Saturday morning.
The cyclone is currently 840 km South-SouthEast of Vishakhapatnam. The sea continued to be very rough around the Andhra coast, NDMA informed.
The cyclone over southeast Bay of Bengal had moved west-northwestwards in the past six hours with a speed of 17 kmph. The system is very likely to move west-northwestwards and intensify further during next 24 hours, the NDMA said.
“The cyclonic storm is very likely to maintain its peak intensity up to evening of December 11, 2016,” NDMA said.
The system is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm during the next 24 hours and it is expected to make a landfall in Andhra Pradesh coast on December 12, the Met Department said.
A fleet of seven ships and six helicopters on Friday evacuated 2,376 tourists, including several foreign nationals, stranded in two islands of the Andamans due to cyclonic weather since December 5. As the weather cleared in the morning, Navy, Coast Guard, Air Force and Union Territory (UT) administration started a joint evacuation drive and brought back all stranded tourists to Port Blair from Havelock and Neil islands of the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. The tourists were stranded since Monday due to torrential rains, choppy seas and heavy winds as neither aircrafts nor ships could operate due to the inclement weather.
As NASA’s Aqua satellite passed over the Bay of Bengal, Tropical Cyclone 05B was renamed Vardah and continued moving away from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
On December 8, 2:50 a.m. EST (0750 UTC), the Moderate Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite captured a visible image of Tropical Storm Vardah. The MODIS image clearly showed that the center of the storm was just southwest of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Thick bands of thunderstorms in the north and east of center continued to blanket the islands and bring rainfall and gusty winds.
The Andaman Islands are an archipelago that consists of 550 islands, according to Andaman and Nicobar Tourism. There are 22 Nicobar Islands. All of the islands are known for white-sand beaches, mangroves and tropical rainforests.
At 10 am EST (1500 UTC) on the same day, Tropical Storm Vardah’s maximum sustained winds were near 52 mph (45 knots/83 kph). It was centered near 11.7 degrees north latitude and 91.6 degrees east longitude, about 642 nautical miles south of Chittagong, Bangladesh. Vardah was moving to the northwest at 4.6 mph (4 knots/7.4 kph).
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) noted “Animated enhanced infrared satellite imagery shows a recent resurgence in central convection (developing thunderstorms) building over the consolidated low level circulation center. A microwave image continues to show fragmented [thunderstorm] banding wrapping around the northern periphery with dry air located to the south.” Vardah is forecast to move west-northwest and head across the Bay of Bengal toward eastern India. The storm is expected to intensify to hurricane-force before landfall in India.
With ANI/PTI inputs.