The Indian Meteorological Department on Thursday sounded a red alert in three districts of Kerala – Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam and Pathanamthitta – for May 14, in view of a cyclonic storm which is likely to be formed near the Lakshadweep Islands, Onmanorama reported. Named “Tauktae”, this will be the first cyclone of 2021, and is likely to hit the coast by May 16.

The weather department also issued red alerts in Malappuram, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Kannur and Kasaragod for May 15, as the weather conditions triggered heavy rains across the state.

The low pressure was formed in the south eastern part of the Arabian Sea near Lakshadweep on Thursday morning, according to the IMD. It will further intensify in the next 24 hours, first turning into a deep depression by May 15 and then intensifying into a cyclone by May 16.

“We are expecting very rapid intensification of the system within a short time,” Sunitha S Devi, senior scientist at the Cyclone Warning Division of the IMD, told The Indian Express.

She said that one of the reasons for this is the very high sea surface temperatures that are currently prevailing over the Arabian Sea coupled with ocean thermal energy. “It has been found that ocean waters, even upto a depth of 50 metres, are very warm,” she told the newspaper. “This, in turn, will supply more energy to the system via evaporational cooling and help rapid intensification.”

As the system is expected to traverse between Lakshadweep all the way north to Gujarat, heavy to extremely heavy rainfall is expected over Lakshadweep, Kerala and Karnataka between May 14 and 16.

“We cannot rule out intensification similar to Super Cyclone Amphan,” Devi also told The Hindustan Times.

Kerala bans fishing

The Kerala State Disaster Management Authority, meanwhile, banned fishing near the coast of the state till May 17. Chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan advised fishermen to not venture into the sea. “Extremely heavy rainfall has been predicted in the next few days by the IMD,” he wrote on Twitter.

The state department has also sounded weather alerts for the next two days. As per the list, yellow alert has been sounded for Thiruvananthapuram and Malappuram, while Kollam, Idukki, Kottayam, Ernakulam, Alappuzha and Pathanamthitta districts have been placed under the orange alert.

Vijayan also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting the Centre for at least 300 metric tonnes of oxygen for coronavirus patients, amid cyclone warnings, according to The Hindustan Times.

The chief minister said that because of the cyclonic storm there might be disruptions in the electricity supply to oxygen concentrator plants and filling stations. Road transport will also get disrupted “which would impede timely oxygen supply necessary to save lives”, he added.