October 13, 2013 – Cyclone Phailin Hits India with 200 Kilometer Winds (124 MPH), Thousands Flee: Pictured above, as cyclone Phailin closed in on India’s coast, villagers tried to protect themselves from heavy rains in Srikakulam district Saturday. Indian officials report more than 500,000 people were evacuated along the coast.
Cyclone Phailin has struck India’s east coast in the Bay of Bengal, where more than 500,000 people have evacuated from vulnerable areas along the coast. Phailin reportedly packed sustained winds of more than 124 mph when the eye of the storm hit; strong winds will likely persist for hours to come.
Pictured above, a man covers himself with a plastic sheet as a shield as he walks to a safer place near Gopalpur in eastern India Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of people living along India’s eastern coastline took shelter from the massive powerful cyclone Phailin.
It is past midnight in India now, and the cyclone’s winds aren’t expected to dwindle for hours to come. Due to its massive size and creeping speed, the process of making landfall took a long time — and that also means the storm is soaking the areas it passes over, according to India’s Meteorological Department.
Saying that some areas should expect rainfall totaling 9 inches or greater, the weather agency predicts “Gale wind speed reaching 100-120 kmph (62-75 mph) would also prevail for 6 hours and 60-70 [kmph] for subsequent 6 hours” in the hardest-hit areas.
“The town was in total darkness, the headlights of our vehicle illuminating felled trees and power lines blocking roads. Store signs and other debris were being pitched high in the air by powerful storm gusts. Elaborate decorations for a major Hindu festival that people were due to celebrate this weekend were strewn across the main road.”
Officials said Cyclone Phailin affected 12 million people in the eastern states of Odisha and Andhra Pradesh as wind speeds hit 132 mph and ocean surges topped 11 feet. Communities reported large numbers of houses, warehouses and businesses destroyed by the rain and high wind. Cyclone Phailin has become the strongest storm ever to hit India. (Credits – AP, NPR and Google).
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