Cyclone Lehar in the Andaman Sea and adjoining southeast Bay of Bengal has underwent the first of a series of stepped-up strengthening cycles.
According to US Joint Typhoon Warning Centre, Lehar packs howling winds clocking more than 100 km/hr with gusts of up to 130 km/hr.
An India Met Department update early this morning said the system crossed the Andaman and Nicobar Islands just after midnight last night.
Joint Typhoon Warning Centre of the US Navy located the system to 1,230 km east-southeast of Visakhapatnam after it slowed down a bit lateral speed over waters.
It said Lehar represented a dense structure and a dangerous system in the making with intensification into a very severe cyclone expected anytime today.
The storm may just be developing an ‘eye’ feature in the centre, which is indicative of a stage just ahead of strengthening.
According to the US agency, the storm will track west-northwest, which is the normal track for the movement for a cyclone system in the northern hemisphere.
But an odd projection by the UK Met Office suggests that Lehar might deviate from this path and aim at Odisha/West Bengal coast after sometime.
Consensus projections by other models maintain that the storm will intensify into peak intensity of 185 km/hr by Thursday ahead of a landfall over Andhra Pradesh coast.