Cyclone Ockhi weakens, may not hit Gujarat coast: IMD

Ahmedabad:Cyclone Ockhi is gradually weakening into a depression and may not hit the Gujarat coast near Surat as predicted earlier, the Meteorological Centre said here tonight.

Cyclonic storm Ockhi has already turned into a “deep depression” and may hit south Gujarat only as a “depression” late tonight, according to an official statement.

The deep depression is located around 240 kms south- southwest of Surat.

“The deep depression over east-central Arabian Sea moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of 18 kmph during the past six hours and lay centred over east-central Arabian Sea near latitude 19.4 N and longitude 71.5 E, about 240 km south-southwest of Surat and 150 km west-northwest of Mumbai,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) forecast said.

“It is very likely to continue to move north- northeastwards, weaken further and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a depression by tonight (5th December 2017),” the bulletin read.

However, there is also a probability of dissipation of the system over the sea before the landfall due to unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface temperatures near the coast, it added.

Regional IMD officials said the cyclone had already weakened into a deep depression.

“The cyclone has already weakened into a deep depression and it is highly likely that it will turn into a depression.

There are possibilities that it does not hit the coast at all and, as there is a probability of dissipation over the sea before the landfall,” Jayanta Sarkar, director of the MeT office here, said.

“The system weakened mainly because of unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface near the coast. The system weakened because it is winter. The story would have been different had it occurred during the monsoon or pre-monsoon season,” he said.

The IMD release said that the deep depression would bring light to moderate rain in several parts of state for the next three days as the sea condition would remain rough for the next 18 hours.

The MeT Centre cautioned fishermen from venturing into the sea for the next 18 hours.

After dumping rains in Mumbai, Cyclone Ockhi was likely to make a landfall near Surat. Several top political leaders were forced to cancel their rallies in the poll-bound state, which experienced showers.

Although the cyclone has weakened, the state administration has made all the preparation to meet any eventuality.

Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupnai travelled to Surat and took a review meeting of preparations to deal with the situation.

Around 1,600 people have been shifted to safer places in Surat, officials said adding that the security forces– NDRF, BSF, Army, Navy, Coast Guard have been alerted to take all necessary steps.

“Conducted review meeting with officials in view of Ockhi cyclone at Surat. Instructed them to leave no stone unturned to counter any adverse situation…No need to panic,” Rupani tweeted.

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