Maharashtra and Gujarat on Tuesday geared up for Cyclone Nisarga, which is expected to make landfall on Wednesday evening near Alibaug, south of Mumbai.
Also read: Cyclone Nisarga: June 2, 2020
With the India Meteorological Department declaring a red alert in Mumbai for the first cyclone that has formed near the city on the Arabian Sea in a long time, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, in a televised address, advised people to remain indoors. All activity that was set to resume from Wednesday in the State would remain suspended for two more days, he said.
“Let us fight this challenge with the same fortitude and presence of mind that we showed with COVID-19,” he said, urging people to keep their belongings secured and follow official news sources for cyclone updates.
The Chief Minister, who spoke with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and held a video-conference with Home Minister Amit Shah, said besides the State administration, the National Disaster Response Force, Army, Navy and Air Force were on standby. Along with IMD’s red alert, a storm surge warning for Mumbai was also issued. “Storm surge of 1-2 metres above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low-lying areas of Mumbai during the time of landfall,” the warning read.
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Patients shifted as precaution
The Brihanamumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Tuesday shifted nearly 250 COVID-19 patients from the temporary facility at Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) ground to the COVID centre at the NSCI Centre, a permanent structure in Worli as a precautionary measure ahead of the landfall of severe cyclone Nisarga on Wednesday.
The facility had been built by the MMRDA to cater to non-critical COVID-19 patients and was handed over to the BMC last month. The 1,008 bed facility received its first set of patients on May 25.
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The deep depression in the Arabian Sea intensified into cyclonic storm Nisarga on Tuesday and lay centred over east central Arabian Sea, 380 km south-southwest of Mumbai. It is very likely to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm by Wednesday morning, resulting in high wind speed, rough seas, storm surge, waterlogging, and damage to power and communication lines, houses, roads and trees.
The cyclone will move northwards, recurve north-northeastwards and cross north Maharashtra between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibaug, on Wednesday afternoon. It is projected to have windspeeds of about 110 kmph as it makes landfall. Thereafter the system will weaken to a less severe ‘deep depression’ according to the IMD. This is the first cyclone to form near Mumbai in the Arabian Sea since 1882.
The IMD has issued a red alert (extremely heavy rainfall) and a storm surge warning for Mumbai. “Storm surge of 1-2 metres above astronomical tide is very likely to inundate low lying areas of Mumbai during the time of landfall,” IMD said.
Since the cyclone will pass over Maharashtra and weaken, the IMD has not issued a warning for Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts for Thursday. It has issued a green alert (light to moderate rain) for Mumbai and an orange alert (heavy to very heavy rain) for Palghar.
Shubhangi Bhute, senior scientist, IMD Mumbai, said, “The cyclone will make landfall near Alibaug on Wednesday afternoon owing to which Mumbai will experience high wind speed. The system is moving fast, it will cross north Maharashtra and move towards Madhya Pradesh. Besides, the system is also weakening. That is why we have issued no alert for Thursday.”
A few parts of Mumbai witnessed light rain on Tuesday evening and daytime temperatures dropped to 32.4 degrees Celsius from 34 degrees Celsius on Monday. By 8.30 p.m. on Tuesday, Mumbai had received 11 mm rainfall. The IMD said conditions will be favourable for the onset of monsoon in Mumbai only when the cyclone moves away from the region.
The Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) said special precautions have been taken for smaller and lighter aircraft typically used for general aviation as they are vulnerable to strong winds. Some aircraft have flown out of Mumbai until the cyclone passes while others have been asked to park inside the hangar.
“The airport has ensured that minimum aircraft are parked on the apron. The airport is closely coordinating with IMD to monitor the progress/dissipation of adverse weather.
Also read: Maharashtra, Gujarat brace for cyclone Nisarga
Arrangements for 24/7 food to be available to passengers and setting up of a dedicated team has been made,” a spokesperson said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation issued a circular to airlines and pilots on Tuesday, reiterating its guidelines on adverse weather operations.
“Domestic aviation activities have recently been started after a period of two months. Operators and individuals have a challenge at hand in restarting flying after a prolonged period of non-flying and the associated weather at this time of the year across India,” said the DGCA. The circular was being issued to operators and pilots to reiterate some existing guidelines on adverse weather operations and suggested measures “to cater for the gap in flying of pilots”, it said. “Fuel uplift calculation should be done very judiciously and it should take into account enroute and destination weather and trend forecast,” the DGCA said.
(With PTI inputs)