Chennai has begun to experience the wrath of Cyclone Vardah, a tropical storm that originated in the Bay of Bengal on Dec 6.

On its way to India’s south-eastern coast, Vardah passed the Indian island chain of Andaman and Nicobar, bringing heavy rainfall and packing winds between 110 and 120 km per hour.

The storm has been classified as Category 1 cyclone on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale,a gauge of severity of cyclone based on its wind speed. Category 1 cyclone are characterised by wind speeds in the vicinity of 110 km per hour, and result in significant property damage and power cuts, according to the US-based National Hurricane Centre.

For instance, as Vardha starts to make landfall in Chennai, there are reports of power cuts being experienced in many parts of the city which is typical of such a storm. Train services to and out of Tamil Nadu are also expected to be affected due to power lines being hit.

The strong winds accompanying a Category 1 cyclone are strong enough to break and even force out trees from the ground,another symptom being experienced in cyclone hit Chennai.

A Category 1 cyclone has potential to cause significant loss of lives if preventive measures aren’t taken.

A comparable cyclone, Huddud, that struck the coast of Andhra Pradesh around Vishakapatnam in 2014, was originally categorised as Category 1 cyclone. It caused 61 deaths in the state and resulted in property damage worth $21,908 crores.

So, it all boils down to how prepared the authorities really are to deal with the logistical challenge of evacuating people beforehand from areas predicted to be hit.

There is a massive evacuation exercise underway in the affected areas of Tamil Nadu, with 9,500 people already having been evacuated.