Vardah hits Chennai with unexpected force, 10 people dead

Vardah hits Chennai with unexpected force, 10 people dead

Severe Cyclonic Storm "Vardah" slammed into India on December 12, 2016. The significant weakening, expected prior to landfall, didn't happen, and the system hit Chennai as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds reaching 140 km/h (87 mph) and intense rainfall. National Disaster Management Authority reports that at least 10 people have died in Tamil Nadu.

Vardah crossed north Tamil Nadu coast close to Chennai between 15:00 and 17:00 on December 12, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The storm pounded Chennai for about an hour and a half on the afternoon of December 12 (local time), before traveling further inland. At least 10 cm (4 inches) of rainfall was recorded in several locations. 20 cm (7.9 inches) of total precipitation was recorded in Chennai, and about 16 cm (6.3 inches) was received since the evening of December 11 (local time).

Tropical Cyclone Vardah, December 12, 2016

Tropical Cyclone "Vardah", December 12, 2016. Image credit: NASA/Suomi NPP/VIIRS

Tropical Cyclone Vardah, 15:00 UTC, December 12, 2016

Tropical Cyclone Vardah, 15:00 UTC, December 12, 2016. Image credit: NOAA

According to meteorologists, the system was a surprise, as significant weakening before landfall was forecasted: "Vardah did not weaken significantly as expected. The very severe cyclonic storm was still a severe cyclonic storm when it made landfall north of Chennai," said Mahesh Palawat, Skymet Weather's chief meteorologist.

Vardah tore down hundreds of trees and caused widespread traffic disruptions across the affected areas. Numerous homes were reportedly damaged in the coastal regions of Kottivakkam, Palavakkam, Foreshore Estate, and Royapuram. Widespread power outages occurred, as electrical poles sustained serious damage. Mobile phone towers collapsed in Besant Nagar, K K Nagar, Khader Nawaz Khan Road, Adambakkam, and Marina.

Video credit: NewzstreetTV

Video credit: NewzstreetTV

Video credit: ABP News

The worst of the storm seems to be over, as the wind speeds reduced to 15-25 km/h (9.3-15.5 mph) by the evening of December 12 (local time). Further rainfall is still expected in Chennai, Tiruvallur, Kancheepuram, and Villupuram districts over the next 24 hours, although significantly weaker, in a light to moderate range.

According to meteorologists, another storm system could form over the Bay of Bengal in about a week.

Featured image credit: NewzstreetTV

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