Tropical storm Nisarga, which intensified into a “severe cyclonic storm”, made landfall on the Maharashtra coast on Wednesday afternoon, NDTV reported. On Wednesday morning, the storm was headed towards Alibag in Maharashtra’s Raigad district, about 100 km from Mumbai. It began its landfall around 1 pm south of Alibag at a speed of 120 km to 140 km per hour, The Times of India reported.
Flight operations were stopped at Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport till 7 pm due to the cyclonic storm, ANI reported.
The cyclone is expected to trigger heavy rainfall and wind in parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. It is expected to complete entering over Mumbai and Thane by 3 pm. “The rear part of the wall cloud region is still over the sea and the landfall process will be completed in one hour,” the India Meteorological Department said. “Its current intensity near the centre is 90 to 100 km per hour to 110 km per hour. It will move northeastwards and weaken into a cyclonic storm during next six hours.”
Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s office said around 1,500 citizens were evacuated and shifted to a safe and sturdy shelter in Alibag.
Visuals showed strong winds uprooting trees and tin roof atop a building blowing away. National Disaster Response Force chief SN Pradhan said nearly 1 lakh people have been evacuated from the cyclone spots in Maharashtra and Gujarat, ANI reported.
At least 10 sailors were also rescued from a ship, which was stranded off the coast of Ratnagiri due to high tide and heavy rains, an official told PTI.
More than 19,000 people in Maharashtra have been moved to safety, reported NDTV. Chief Minister Uddhav 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.
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.
Apart from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli have also been put on high alert. The IMD has issued a red alert for at least seven coastal districts of Maharashtra, while several districts along Gujarat’s coast are also likely to receive heavy rainfall. Goa experienced heavy rains and gusty winds since Wednesday morning. There were also reports of flooding in some low-lying areas, according to PTI.
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.
This will be the first cyclone to hit India’s financial capital in over 100 years. “The last severe cyclonic storm to hit near Mumbai was in 1961,” said Mohapatra. 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.”