Cyclone Gaja made landfall in Tamil Nadu state at approximately 01:40 (local time) on Friday, November 16. As of 02:15, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) indicated that Gaja is moving west-southwest at 16 km/h (10 mph) and is exhibiting sustained wind speeds of 100 km/h (60 mph) with gusts of up to 120 km/h (75 mph). Rainfall of more than 20 cm (8 in) and a storm surge of 1 m (3 ft) is expected in coastal areas of southeastern India.
The IMD has issued a red weather alert (the highest level on a four-tier scale) for high winds, heavy rains, and strong surf in Tamil Nadu. An orange weather alert (the third-highest on a four-tier scale) is also in effect in Andhra Pradesh due to heavy rains and high surf until the late morning hours of Friday. The states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will remain under orange weather alerts through the end of November 16. Gaja is expected to weaken to a tropical storm by Friday afternoon as it travels over Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Strong wind alerts will remain in effect off the coast of Kerala through November 17.
More than 60,000 people have been evacuated from coastal areas and moved to inland relief centers. Officials have declared that schools in affected areas will remain closed on November 16 and advised residents to shelter in place for the duration of the storm.
Tropical cyclones are common in the Indian Ocean from April to December.
Individuals in the affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, and anticipate flooding, transportation, and telecommunication disruptions. In the event of flooding, keep in mind that driving or walking through running water can be dangerous - 15 cm (6 in) of running water is enough to knock over an adult.
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