Coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are bracing for Cyclone Nivar, which has intensified into a "severe cyclonic storm", expected to intensify further and is barrelling towards the southeast coast.
"Our forecast is that it will intensify into a very severe cyclonic storm. It is very likely to cross Tamil Nadu and Puducherry coasts between Karaikal and Mamallapuram around Puducherry during November 25 late evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 120-130 kilometres per hour gusting to 145 kmph," IMD Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said.
The powerful cyclone is likely to hit the coast by midnight or early tomorrow, the Met department said.
The cyclone could hit the coast between Mamallapuram in Tamil Nadu and Karaikal in Puducherry.
The cyclone has brought with it heavy rain and strong winds in coastal Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted to assure the Tamil Nadu and Puducherry governments - both have said today is a public holiday - of all possible support.
Nivar is the second cyclone in the Bay of Bengal this year. In May, Cyclone Amphan had developed into a 'super cyclonic storm'.
The IMD has issued a red alert for coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Karaikal, for November 25, the top meteorologist said.
"Isolated extremely heavy rainfall activity also very likely over coastal and north interior Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (Pudukottai, Thanjavur, Tiruvarur, Karaikal, Nagapattinam, Cuddalore, Ariyalur and Perabalu districts during 24th and Kadalur, Kallakurchi, Puducherry, Villupuram, Tiruvannamalai, Chengalpattu to Ariyalur, Perambalur and Karaikal districts during 25th) and over Nellore and Chittoor districts of Andhra Pradesh on 25th and over Rayalseema and southeast Telangana on 26th November," the IMD said.
A holiday has been declared in Tamil Nadu on Wednesday in view of the cyclone's expected landfall while transport services have been suspended.
Meanwhile, PWD officials announced that 1000 cusecs of water will be released from the Chembarambakkam lake, as the level stood at 22 ft of the total 24ft. Water will be released from 12 noon onwards and the dischagre will be stepped up depending upon the inflow, civic body officials said.