Tropical cyclone Vardah takes aim at India

Heavy rain and winds have begun to pound the Indian city of Chennai, with a severe tropical cyclone expected to make landfall Monday.

Tropical cyclone Vardah is packing winds of 100 kilometers per hour (62 miles per hour) and is the first cyclone on the Bay of Bengal to reach hurricane force in 2016, according to CNN meteorologists. It could create a one meter high storm surge as it makes landfall.

Vardah is expected to bring extremely heavy rainfall to Chennai in the southeast state of Tamil Nadu and the state of Andhra Pradesh, added CNN meterologists.

The cyclone is currently at category 1 strength, but is expected to weaken to a tropical storm with sustained winds of 80 to 90 kmph (50 to 56 mph) as it makes landfall.

The Indian Meteorological Department has issued heavy rain warnings for southern India.


Schools closed, employees told to work from home

Chennai, a city on the Bay of Bengal in eastern India, is the country's second largest financial hub after Mumbai.

Vardah could also take a heavy toll on the country's agricultural sector, destroying banana plantations, papaya groves and rice paddies.

According to local media reports, Vardah has prompted schools and colleges to close in Chennai, Kancheepuram, and Tiruvallur districts and the coastal areas of Viluppuram district in the state of Tamil Nadu.

India's labor department has also issued an advisory instructing companies to allow employees to work from home.

Tropical cyclone Vardah is the strongest cyclone since October 2014 when cyclone Hud Hud moved into Andhra Pradesh, claiming over 100 lives and causing $3.4 billion in damage.

Vardah could also hit fishing villages located along the coast of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.