Cyclone Vayu, which was expected to make a landfall in Gujarat this week but changed its trajectory on the intervening night of Wednesday and Thursday, could change direction again and move towards the state again in the next 48 hours.
The cyclone may "recurve on June 16 and hit Kutch on June 17-18," M Rajeevan, Secretary of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, told news agency PTI on Friday hours after Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that Cyclone Vayu "no longer posed any threat" to the state as it had moved away westward.
The top Earth Ministry official also said the intensity of the "very severe" cyclonic storm is "likely to reduce" and it may hit the coast as a "cyclonic storm or a deep depression".Cyclone Vayu, the second cyclone to hit India this year, was earlier expected to hit land between Porbandar and Veraval on Thursday. However, the weather department said it had changed its direction and moved westwards towards Oman, reports NDTV.
Massive arrangements were put in place ahead of the expected landfall. More than three lakh people were evacuated from the coastal Gujarat and the union territory of Diu. Apart from the National Disaster Response Force, the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and the Border Security Force were put on high alert and schools and colleges were shut.
On Friday, a day after the cyclonic storm changed its course, Mr Rupani said that "Gujarat is now completely safe". "Around 2.75 lakh people who were evacuated from the coastal areas are free to return to their homes," he told reporters, and added that "schools and colleges will start as per their schedules Saturday".
Later in the day, after the fresh alert, Ahmedabad Meteorological Centre Additional Director Manorama Mohanty said it was too early to predict if the cyclone will recurve and hit Kutch or Saurashtra. "The report says it may recurve in the next 48 hours. But it is also possible it may weaken by then and dissipate in the sea itself. Thus, it is too early to predict that it will come back and hit the Kutch coast," she said.
In its latest update, the weather office on Saturday said suspension of fishing operations continues around the Gujarat coast and the "fishermen are advised not to venture into north Arabian Sea and along & off Gujarat".
Fishermen in the coastal areas of Porbandar have said they have incurred huge losses due to the strong winds generated by the cyclonic storm. They have also appealed to the state government to take steps for ensuring sufficient places for boats to be parked.
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