The Tamil Nadu government declared a public holiday on Wednesday as Cyclone Nivar was likely to intensify further into a severe cyclonic storm and expected to make a landfall between Mamallapuram and Karaikal district in the Puducherry region, reported The Indian Express. A government order said that only essential services will be allowed to operate on Wednesday.

By Tuesday evening, heavy rains, accompanied by strong winds and high tides, battered most parts of Tamil Nadu, including Chennai, as the storm approached the coast of the state.

The India Meteorological Department has forecast that the cyclone will likely cross the Tamil Nadu coast late on Wednesday evening. The IMD said that that Cyclone Nivar will turn into a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed between 120-130 km per hour gusting to 145 kmph.

In Chennai, officials asked people not to panic as water levels rose in the Chembarambakkam reservoir, and additional water was released into the Adyar River, according to the Hindustan Times. Overflow from the Chembarambakkam reservoir had caused the 2015 floods in the city. However, Greater Chennai Corporation Commissioner G Prakash told the newspaper that the situation was under control.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Response Force has positioned 22 teams in areas likely to be affected by the cyclone in Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.

NDRF Director General SN Pradhan said that 12 teams have been deployed in Tamil Nadu, three in Puducherry and seven in Andhra Pradesh. Eight teams are kept on stand-by to meet any additional requirement, Pradhan said, adding that the teams were keeping a close watch on the situation. The Tamil Nadu government has also kept 465 ambulances on high-alert, according to The Times of India.

The IMD also warned that there could be damage to thatched houses in Thiruvallur, Kancheepuram, Tiruvarur and Chennai districts of Tamil Nadu and that power and communication lines may get damaged. Trees might get also uprooted due to the cyclonic storm.

The weather forecasting agency has also predicted widespread rainfall and thunderstorms over coastal and north interior areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal on Tuesday and Thursday. The forecast was the same for south coastal Andhra Pradesh and Rayalaseema on Wednesday and Thursday and southeast Telangana on November 26.

In view of the cyclone and the heavy rainfall in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, the Southern Railways has cancelled 12 trains for Wednesday. Several areas of the three states were affected by rainfall even as it led to water-logging in Chennai. The city had received 465.40 mm till 6 am, the Greater Chennai Corporation said.

Vehicles ply on a waterlogged road during heavy rain triggered by Cyclone Nivar, in Chennai on Tuesday. Source: R Senthil Kumar/ PTI

In Puducherry, prohibitory orders under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code was imposed to prevent people from venturing out when landfall happens. All shops and establishments have been directed to shut down from 9 pm on November 24 to 6 am on November 26. The order could be revised as per the situation.

The order does not apply to government officials who are on cyclone duty and those involved in essential services such as petrol bunks, milk supply, pharmacies and health services.

In Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy held a virtual meeting with the collectors of Kurnool, Nellore, Chittoor, Anantapuramu, Kadapa and Prakasam districts over the developing situation. He asked collectors to be on a high alert and take all necessary precautionary measures to prevent damage.

Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that he had spoken to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister E Palaniswami and his Puducherry counterpart and assured them of help from the Centre. “I pray for the safety and well-being of those living in the affected areas,” Modi added.