It’s the largest evacuation ahead of a national disaster in India’s history.

While the country and its citizens are no strangers to an annual cyclone season (much like hurricane season in the Atlantic), a severe tropical cyclone named Fani is shaping up to be one of the worst storms India’s seen in two decades.

It’s expected to make landfall on Friday morning near Puri, in the state of Odisha, with heavy rainfall and winds of up to 150 mph, according to the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center.

According to the India Meteorological Department, Fani has been classified as an “extremely severe cyclonic storm,” with conditions akin to a Category 4 hurricane.

cyclone fani

Foto: The Modis instrument aboard NASA’s Terra satellite provided a visible image of Cyclone Fani in the northern Indian Ocean, off the southeastern coast of India, on Wednesday.sourceNASA Worldview, Earth Observing System Data and Information System (EOSDIS)

Millions of people live in Fani’s projected path, prompting Indian authorities to call for an evacuation of the country’s entire eastern seaboard as the storm barrels north in the Bay of Bengal.

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On Thursday, the Odisha government evacuated more than 300,000 people and confirmed plans to evacuate another 800,000 before the storm hits, according to the Times of India.

cyclone fani evacuations

Foto: Villagers leave from the outskirts of Konark, in the eastern state of Odisha, India, on Thursday.sourceReuters/Stringer

India’s special relief commissioner told the Press Trust of India news agency that tourists had been asked to leave Puri, a popular beach town, by Thursday night as part of the evacuation.

Officials have opened more than 800 shelters and are ready to airdrop 100,000 dry-food packets.

cyclone Fani

Foto: A fisherman carries his tools after tying his boats along the shore in Peda Jalaripeta, on the outskirts of Visakhapatnam, on Wednesday.sourceReuters/Stringer

Officials say Fani could be the worst storm since 1999, when a cyclone killed about 10,000 people and devastated large parts of the state.

Last week, Tropical Cyclone Kenneth ripped through northern Mozambique as the strongest tropical cyclone to ever make landfall in the country. It made landfall with the same strength that officials anticipate for Fani.