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BHUBANESHWAR, India — A powerful cyclone lashed coastal areas of eastern India on Friday with torrential rain and winds gusting up to 124 mph.
Having spent days building up power in the northern reaches of the Bay of Bengal, tropical Cyclone Fani finally struck the coast of Odisha state at around 8 a.m. local time (10:30 p.m. ET on Thursday), the state-run India Meteorological Department said.
A bulletin released Friday morning said the "extremely severe" cyclone weakened into a "very severe" cyclone.
Around 37 miles inland, high winds uprooted trees and electricity poles in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed.
On India's cyclone scale, Fani is the second-most severe, equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane.
India's cyclone season can last from April to December, when severe storms batter coastal cities and cause widespread deaths and damage to crops and property in both India and neighboring Bangladesh.
Technological advancements have helped meteorologists to predict weather patterns well in advance, and authorities have become far better at preparing for the ferocious storms and reducing casualties.