Almost 300,000 people are set to be evacuated to 700 shelter homes, a spokesperson for India’s Home Ministry said Wednesday. Schools and colleges in affected districts are closed until Friday, officials said.
On Wednesday, Tropical Cyclone Vayu will pass about 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Mumbai before making landfall in Gujarat state on India’s western coast on Thursday.
Thirty-nine National Disaster Response Force teams — each with about 45 people — have been deployed to help local authorities with evacuation, search, rescue and relief operations. The army has 34 teams on stand-by.
Strongest Cyclone in 20 years
Powerful tropical cyclones rarely make it this far north in the Arabian Sea, and Gujarat state has not had a hurricane-strength storm make landfall in 20 years.
With that storm in mind, India’s military and government were deploying personnel from the National Disaster Response Force to the region on Tuesday.
Fisherman were being warned about the rough seas ahead of the storm’s arrival along with coastal residents preparing for a storm surge of up to 2 meters, which could inundate parts of the low-lying coast of the Kutch district in Gujarat.
India’s Meteorological Department is also warning of the potential for very heavy rainfall (over 200 millimeters or 8 inches) along with wind gusts over 135 kph along the Gujarat coast.
Second cyclone for India this year
This is the second major tropical cyclone threat of the year for India, which faced Fani in early May.
Fani, which struck near the city of Puri in Odisha state, had winds of 240 kilometers per hour (150 mph), making it equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane.