The deep depression over the Arabian Sea that intensified on Tuesday leading to the emergence of Cyclone Nisarga will hit the coast near Alibag in Maharashtra on Wednesday, the Indian Meteorological Department said ,according to the Hindustan Times. The cyclone is expected to make landfall between noon and 3 pm with a wind speed of 100 to 110 km per hour gusting to 120 km per hour.
Goa experienced heavy rains and gusty winds on Wednesday morning. There were also reports of flooding in some low-lying areas, according to PTI.
Several cities in Maharashtra will experience heavy rainfall as a result of the landfall. “It is very likely to intensify into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during next 06 hours,” the IMD said in its 5 am bulletin. According to the weather department, the tropical storm is currently 165 km south-southwest of Alibag, 215 km south-southwest of Mumbai and 440 km south-southwest of Surat in Gujarat.
A 6.30 am bulletin by the Regional Specialized Meteorological Centre for Tropical Cyclones said that the cyclone has been approaching the Maharashtra coast at a speed of 13 km per hour over the previous six hours. It is currently 155 km South-Southwest of Alibag and 200 km South-Southwest of Mumbai.
The Mumbai Police, late on Tuesday, banned people from visiting places like beaches, parks and promenades along the coastline from Wednesday morning to Thursday noon, NDTV reported. Maharashtra, reeling under the impact of the Covid-19 coronavirus, had decided to reopen public spaces like parks, beaches and playgrounds for public exercise from Wednesday.
The Central Railways rescheduled several special trains which were supposed to arrive or depart from Mumbai on Wednesday, reports ANI. Only five airlines – Air Asia India, Air India, IndiGo, GoAir and SpiceJet – will operate a total of 19 flights from Mumbai international airport, reported NDTV. Authorities have cautioned passengers about probable changes in the schedule of the flights due to the cyclone.
Apart from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have also been put on high alert. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke with Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray about the situation. Around 30 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been deployed in areas expected to be affected by Cyclone Nisarga. One NDRF team consists of 45 personnel.
“The last severe cyclonic storm to hit close to Mumbai was in 1961,” IMD Director General Mrityunjay Mohapatra said. “The important thing is to take all precautions possible, which state governments are trying. Inundation is possible so evacuation of vulnerable people is important.”
Thackeray on Tuesday appealed to people to stay indoors for the next two days. In a video address, Thackeray asked residents of Mumbai to be prepared to face possible power cuts as strong winds will strike the city. He asked them to charge their gadgets and if possible, keep emergency lights handy.
Scientists believe that Cyclone Nisarga’s expected landfall in or near Mumbai is a sign of climate change, Mint reported. “We already see a detectable increase in post-monsoon tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea,” Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology climate scientist Roxy Matthew Koll said. “The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change] reports indicate an increase in Arabian Sea cyclones during the pre- and post-monsoon seasons as a response to the rapid ocean warming trends.”