Tens of thousands of people fled their homes in coastal areas of eastern India and moved to shelters Friday, bracing for Cyclone Phailin, which is expected to be the fiercest cyclone to threaten the country since a devastating stormkilled 10,000 people in the Indian state of Odisha 14 years ago.
Satellite images of the storm showed it 310 miles off India’s coast in the Bay of Bengal. Those images also showed the system covering an area roughly half the size of India. Some forecasters have likened its size and intensityto that of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the U.S. Gulf Coast in 2005.
If the storm continues on its current path without weakening, it is expected to cause large-scale power and communications outages and shut down road and rail links, officials said. There could also be extensive damage to crops.