The IMD withdrew the cyclone warning as it weakened into deep depression, much to the relief of the people in five of the nine coastal districts which feared devastation.
According to an IMD bulletin Thursday morning, the cyclonic storm over westcentral Bay of Bengal weakened into a deep depression and lay centred at about 120 km east-southeast of Machillipatnam and 160 km south of Kakinada.
“It would move west-northwestwards, weaken further and cross Andhra Pradesh coast near Machillipatnam as a depression by today…afternoon.”
The Met Office forecast squally winds speed reaching 45-55 kmph along and off Andhra Pradesh coast Thursday.
It also forecast rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls in coastal Andhra Pradesh and Yanam district of Puducherry (geographically a part of Andhra) till Friday. Rainfall at most places with isolated heavy to very heavy falls would also occur over Telangana during next 36 hours.
The meteorologists had Wednesday said the cyclonic storm weakened due to low temperature of the water at the coast, wind shear at the coast and also the winds blowing from central India.
The IMD had earlier warned the state of very severe cyclonic storm with the wind speed gusting to 200 kmph. The state government had sounded an alert as the intensity of the cyclone feared to be more than that of 1996 cyclone that killed hundreds of people and caused widespread destruction in Konaseema region of East Godavari district.
The authorities have evacuated more than 26,000 people from vulnerable areas in four districts, requisitioned four helicopters and six columns of the army for rescue and relief work.
Lehar was the third cyclone to threaten the Andhra coast in a month. Helen had crossed the coast at Machilipatnam last week, killing six people and damaging crops over four lakh hectares.
Phailin, which hit Odisha-Andhra coast last month, had caused some crop damage and claimed one life in Srikakulam district bordering Odisha. However, the subsequent heavy rains and floods claimed 58 lives and damaged crops over 13 lakh hectares.
According to initial estimates by department of disaster management, Helen caused damage of Rs.1,628 crore. The state government has sought an assistance of Rs.6,500 crore from the central government for relief and rehabilitation in Phailin-hit areas.