Cyclone Fani has made landfall on India’s eastern coast as a grade 5 storm, lashing the emptied beaches with rain and wind gusting up to 205 kilometers (127 miles) per hour.
There were no early reports of casualties.
The India Meteorological Department says the “extremely severe” cyclone in the Bay of Bengal hit the coastal state of Odisha around 8 a.m. on May 3.
India’s National Disaster Response Force says around 1.2 million people have been evacuated from low-lying areas of Odisha and moved to nearly 4,000 shelters.
Hundreds of disaster management personnel were deployed in the state, and doctors and other medical staff were told to defer any leave until May 15.
Neighboring West Bengal also decided to close an airport at Kolkata, its state capital.
Odisha Special Relief Commissioner Bishnupada Sethi says communications have been disrupted in some areas.
Close to 60 km (37 miles) inland, high winds uprooted trees and electricity poles in the state capital, Bhubaneshwar, where authorities had ordered the airport to stay closed. Schools and colleges in Odisha were also shut.
Fani is the fiercest storm since 1999, when a cyclone killed around 10,000 people and devastated large parts of Odisha.
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.
Cyclones typically quickly lose power as they move inland.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has asked his officials to stay in touch with the states at risk from cyclone Fani.
Reuters contributed to this article