KENDRAPARA, India, Oct. 11 (UPI) -- Rough seas forced fishing vessels to return to port Friday as Typhoon Phailin bore down on India's Bay of Bengal, officials said.
Four fishermen were rescued a day after their ship capsized near the Gahirmatha and Bhitarkanika marine sanctuaries, Paradip marine fisheries officer Ranjit Keshari Dash told Press Trust of India. The fishermen had put to sea despite the typhoon warnings but Dash had no reports of any fishing vessels stranded at sea.
With the potential to intensify into a super storm, Phailin was expected to make landfall Saturday evening at Gopalpur in Odisha state. More than 260,000 people were being evacuated from low-lying areas.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center Friday classified the storm as a Category 4 and said it could increase in intensity to a Category 5 by Saturday.
Some forecasters compared the size and intensity of the typhoon to Hurricane Katrina, which hit the U.S. Gulf Coast and New Orleans in 2005, the Hindustan Times said.
The storm was 254 miles southeast of Kalingapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and winds of 28 to 34 mph were already recorded off the Odisha coast, said the India Meteorological Department. "It will increase in intensity with gale wind speed reaching 130 to 136 mph along and off coastal districts of south Odisha at the time of landfall."
This portion of the coast is particularly susceptible to storm surge flooding, The Weather Channel said.
The India Meteorological Department predicted heavy rains and storm surges of nearly 5 to 8 feet above astronomical tide, The Times of India said. Such surges would inundate the areas of Ganjam, Khurda, Puri and Jagatsinghpur in Odisha state.