As the toll in Bihar floods rose past 500, attention shifted to western India on Tuesday, as heavy rainfall has lashed the northern Konkan coast, including Mumbai, southern Gujarat, south west Madhya Pradesh and south east Rajasthan.

The India Meteorological Department has predicted that heavy rainfall will continue over these regions over the next two days.

“A well-marked low pressure area lies over southwest Madhya Pradesh and neighbourhood,” the Met said in a press release on Tuesday. “It is likely to move westwards and concentrate into a depression during the next 24 hours.”

Cloud formations over western India on August 29. Image credit: India Meteorological Department
Rainfall between southern Gujarat and Goa on August 29. Image credit: India Meteorological Department

Media attention has focussed on Mumbai, which received 298 mm of rain between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on Tuesday, according to private weather forecasting agency Skymet, the highest since a cloudburst over the city in 2005. Several parts of Mumbai have been inundated with as much as chest-deep water and local train services stopped functioning for part of the day. Three teams of the National Disaster Relief Force have been posted in the city to assist in the event of any rescue operations.

Mumbai, due to its dense urbanisation and questionable decisions such as hewing flood-mitigating mangroves in favour of concrete constructions, is evidently severely inundated.

It is not, however, the only place to receive this much rainfall in the region. On Monday, Pen in Maharashtra’s Raigarh taluka, just to the south of Mumbai, had 260 mm of rainfall, which was the highest rainfall of the state, according to data from the Met’s regional centre in Mumbai. Silvassa, the capital of the Union Territory of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, in southern Gujarat, had the highest rain in that region, with 290 mm of rain.

Visuals of heavy rain in Palghar and Boisar, north of Mumbai, but a part of the suburban railway line.

In Palghar district, to the north of Mumbai, the reservoir of a dam has filled entirely and three doors opened to release excess water downstream.

Visuals of a reservoir in Palghar district.

The Meteorological Department releases 24 hour data of rainfall at 8.30 am each day so it is yet unclear which part of this region has received the most rainfall over Tuesday.

The media attention on Maharashtra’s capital city also far outstrips that given to floods in states including Bihar, Assam, Gujarat and Rajasthan, which have all had high casualties due to floods since June.

Apart from the high toll in Bihar, which received scant attention outside the state, Assam also had its worst flood in decades in the middle of August, temporarily cutting off North East India’s only rail link with the rest of the country.

Cyclone, cloudburst just rumours

As the day progressed, rumours of cyclones and cloudbursts began to circulate on social media. Some messages even claimed that the system was a cyclone called Phyan. All these rumours are untrue, said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general of the India Meteorological Department’s western region.

“There is a low pressure over the west of Madhya Pradesh that is intensifying into a depression, but that is all that is giving this present rainfall,” Hosalikar said. “There is no cyclone or cloudburst.”

Hosalikar said that the rainfall is likely to reduce by Wednesday afternoon.