Cyclone Bulbul is likely to make landfall this evening on the Sundarbans, as it was heading towards the coast yesterday.
It may hit the coast after sunset and pass through the coastal areas in Khulna and West Bengal, said Shamsuddin Ahmed, director of Bangladesh Meteorological Department.
It will then continue to move to the northeast, he said.
The time of landfall depends on whether it will be gaining or losing its velocity, he added.
Weather would remain stormy in different parts of the country throughout the day, he added.
Meanwhile, the authorities postponed the Junior School Certificate and Junior Dakhil Certificate exams scheduled for today.
Today’s JSC test would be held on November 12 and JDC on November 14, Ziaul Haque, chairman of Dhaka Education Board, told The Daily Star.
Chattogram port authorities have suspended loading and unloading of goods and opened three control rooms.
Around 6:00pm yesterday, the “severe cyclone” was centred about 495km southwest of Mongla, 490km southwest of Payra, 585km southwest of Cox’s Bazar, and 620km southwest of Chattogram, according to the met office.
“It is likely to intensify further and move in a north/northeasterly direction and may cross West Bengal-Khulna coast by the evening,” read the forecast.
Maximum sustained wind speed within 74km of the cyclone centre was about 120 kmph rising to 140 kmph in gusts yesterday, it added.
Mongla and Payra ports have been advised to hoist danger signal-7, Chattogram danger signal-6, and Cox’s Bazar cautionary signal-4, it added.
Due to Bulbul and the moon’s phase, low-lying areas in Chattogram, Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Barguna, Bhola, Patuakhali, Barishal, Pirojpur, Jhalakathi, Bagerhat, Khulna, Satkhira and the offshore islands and chars are likely to be inundated during surges 5 to 7 feet high, said the bulletin.
All fishing boats and trawlers in the region have been advised to remain moored until further notice.
Besides, operation of all kinds of vessels have been prohibited on the rivers by the authorities.
Cyclone centres have been prepared and residents of the coastal region are alerted through megaphones, said officials.
Vacation of employees of offices under the disaster management ministry has been cancelled for November 8-10, says a press release.
Light to moderate rain or thunder showers accompanied by temporary gusts are likely to occur at many places in Khulna, Barishal and Chattogram divisions, according to forecasts.
Shahadat Hossain, director general of Department of Disaster Management, said 55,000 volunteers of the cyclone preparedness programme were alerted and asked to be ready.
“We are taking preparations, assuming that it would be a severe cyclone,” he said.
Several hundred tourists have been stranded on the Saint Martin’s island amid bad weather.
The authorities also suspended the traditional Rash Mela at Dublar Char in the Sundarbans.
Briefing reporters at his secretariat office, State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman said officials have taken preparation to evacuate people and livestock in the coastal areas.
About 14,000 packs of dry food, Tk 70 lakh and 1,400 tonnes of rice have been set aside as immediate relief for people in Khulna, Satkhira, Bagerhat, Barguna, Patuakhali, Bhola and Pirojpur.
Tk 30 lakhs and 600 tonnes rice have been allotted for Noakhali, Laxmipur, Feni, Chandpur, Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar, he added.
In Khulna, 349 cyclone shelter centres were kept ready. Educational institutions were also kept open for shelter-seekers, says a PID handout.
Khulna Deputy Commissioner Helal Hossain said they opened 19 control rooms to monitor the situation.
Chattogram DC Eliush Hossain said they have asked locals to evacuate by this morning and take shelter in 479 centres.
Our New Delhi correspondent adds, India has put the army and the air force on standby and deployed the navy as severe cyclone Bulbul hurtled towards West Bengal and Odisha and is likely to hit the two states by early tomorrow.
Our correspondents in Bagerhat and Cox’s Bazar contributed to this report.