Tropical storm “Nisarga”, which is headed towards the coasts in Maharashtra and Gujarat, is likely to intensify into a cyclone in the next 12 hours and is expected to make a landfall close to Mumbai tomorrow. This would be the first cyclonic storm to impact India’s financial capital, which has logged over 41,000 coronavirus cases so far, since 1882.
It may further intensify into a “severe cyclonic storm” in the next 24 hours, the India Meteorological Department or IMD said this morning. Mumbai and neighbouring districts have been placed on high alert.
“The depression over eastcentral Arabian Sea moved northwards with a speed of 11 kmph during past 06 hours intensified into a deep depression and lay centered at 0530 hours IST of today, the 02nd June, 2020 over Eastcentral Arabian Sea near latitude 15.0 N and longitude 71.2 E about 280 km west-southwest of Panjim (Goa), 490 km south-southwest of Mumbai (Maharashtra) and 710 km south-southwest of Surat (Gujarat),” the IMD said this morning.
“It is very likely to intensify into a Cyclonic Storm during next 12 hours and further into a Severe Cyclonic Storm during subsequent 12 hours. It is very likely to move nearly northwards during next 06 hours and recurve north-northeastwards thereafter and cross north Maharashtra and adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar (Raigad, Maharashtra) and Daman during the afternoon of 03rd June,” the statement further read.
On Monday, Union Home Minister Amit Shah spoke to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray through video conferencing and reviewed the state’s preparedness, the Chief Minister’s office said.
Thirty-one teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed in both the states. A team of the NDRF comprises about 45 personnel. “Nisarga is a severe cyclone and we’re expecting a wind speed of 90-100 kmph, which I think is negotiable. Still, as a precautionary measure, we are going to start the evacuation of people from the coastal areas of the two states (Maharashtra and Gujarat) soon,” NDRF Director-General S N Pradhan said.
A storm surge – as high as two metres above the astronomical tide – will inundate the low-lying coastal areas of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts during the landfall, the weather department has said.
Fishermen have been asked to come back from the sea and respective district collectors have been asked to ensure there is no loss of life, a stame from the Maharashtra Chief Minister’s office said. Hospitals that are not treating coronavirus patients will be made available for those needing medical assistance, it added.
The storm may cause major damage to thatched houses, huts, power and communication lines and coastal crops, the weather department has said.
Steps are being taken to ensure there is no disruption of power supply at a time when the state is battling the coronavirus crisis and thousands of patients are undergoing treatment in various hospitals, the NDRF said on Monday.
The tropical storm is expected to make a landfall in Mumbai days after Cyclone Amphan killed 99 people in Bengal and affected lakhs of people. “The people of those states have shown remarkable courage,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said during monthly radio address “Mann Ki Baat”, adding “India stands with Odisha and West Bengal”.