The deep depression in Andaman Sea that has intensified into severe cyclonic storm ‘Phailin’ is expected to hit the Odisha coast near Gopalpur on late Saturday evening.

“The storm is severe, but short of a super cyclone,” said L.S. Rathore, Director General of the India Meteorological Department (IMD). “As of now, Phailin is likely to make a landfall in Gopalpur on Saturday evening with a wind speed of 175-185 km per hour. By tomorrow, there will be a more accurate forecast as to when the storm will land,” Rathore said.

The storm, which lays 870 km from Kalingapatnam and 900 km from Visakhapatnam, would continue to move north-westward. Storm surge with height of around 1.5 to 2 metres above the astronomical tide levels is predicted along the Odisha and North Andhra Pradesh coastline, mainly in Ganjam, Jagatsinghpur, Puri, Khurda and Srikakulam during the landfall.

Squally winds with speeds reaching 45-55 kmph to 65 kmph would hit the Odisha and North Andhra Pradesh on Friday morning. Heavy rainfall of 20-25 cm is predicted along the coastline of Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and West Bengal during the landfall. The rainfall is likely to extend to the hinterland and in States, such as Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Eastern Madhya Pradesh and may damage crops in these regions. Rathore said farmers have been advised to harvest the crop that’s ready such as groundnut and pulses, and clear the standing water in paddy fields.

To deal with challenges arising from the cyclonic storms, the National Disaster Management Authority has geared itself to assist the local administration in these two States. About 28 rescue teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) consisting of about 600 people are being positioned in Odisha, while another 15 teams have been located in Andhra to assist the local administration.

“Our effort would be to ensure that the loss of life and property is minimised to the maximum extent,” Reddy said, adding that help is sought from Ministry of Defence and Health and Family Welfare. The Petroleum Ministry has also been alerted to ensure adequate supplies in the region. Meanwhile, East Coast Railway has geared up its resources to cope with any cyclone and flood situation and for smooth running of trains, said a release.