NEW DELHI Dec 12 Indian authorities closed
schools and colleges on Monday and prepared to move people out
of low-lying areas as a cyclone bore down on the southeast
Cyclone Vardah is moving westwards over the Bay of Bengal
and is expected to hit the city of Chennai and neighbouring
areas Tamil Nadu state within the next few hours, the Indian
Meteorological Department said.
Rain began battering the densely populated coast ahead of
the storm's landfall.
Vardah is forecast to weaken gradually as it moves west but
wind speeds are still predicted to hit about 100 kph (62 mph)
and rain will be very heavy when it reaches land.
A "storm surge" will be about one metre (three feet) high.
The National Disaster Management Authority advised fishermen
to avoid the sea in the states of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh
for the next 36 hours, and told residents to stay in safe
Navy ships and aircraft, as well as 30 diving teams, were on
standby to help move people and deliver aid if need be, a navy
India's cyclone season usually lasts from April to December,
and storms often cause dozens of deaths, evacuations of tens of
thousands of people from low-lying areas and widespread crop and
(Reporting by Tommy Wilkes; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani, Robert