Cyclone Nisarga made landfall between Murud and Revdanda in Maharashtra’s Raigad district as authorities evacuated thousands of people from the coastal areas in the state and in Gujarat, officials said.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for at least seven coastal districts of Maharashtra, while several districts along Gujarat’s coast are also expecting heavy rainfall.
Mumbai, which is on the path of the cyclone, saw heavy showers and is likely to receive very heavy rainfall upwards of 164mm.
The city is already reeling under a high caseload of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases, and the possibility of inundation of low-lying areas has raised concerns over the strain on healthcare infrastructure and municipal resources.
A predicted storm surge of about 1-2 metres height above astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts and 0.5-1 metre height above the astronomical tide is likely to inundate low lying areas of Ratnagiri district during the time of landfall.
A June 2 Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services bulletin indicated a very rough sea along the Konkan coast: from 5.30pm on Tuesday to Wednesday evening, the wave height could be as high as 2.5 to 4 metres in Thane; 2.5 to 4.5 metres in Greater Mumbai; 3 to 6.5 metres in Ratnagiri; and 3 to 5.5 metres in Sindhudurg.
“The last severe cyclonic storm to hit close to Mumbai was in 1961. This storm is severe but with a wind speed of only 100 to 110kmph. Important thing is to take all precautions possible which state governments are trying. Inundation is possible so evacuation of vulnerable people is important,” M Mohapatra, IMD’s director general, had said on Tuesday.
“It is not common for tropical cyclones to hit Maharashtra coast. Usually, during monsoon onset the cyclones that develop move towards Oman and Yemen coasts. The track of the cyclone is completely dependent on wind direction and pressure while warm ocean surface gives energy and intensity to the cyclone,” Sunita Devi, the head of the national weather forecasting centre, said.
The sea surface temperature in parts of the Arabian Sea is 31 to 32 degree Celsius compared to 28 degree Celsius expected during this season.
Nisarga is the 65th named cyclone in the north Indian Ocean and its name, proposed by Bangladesh, means ‘nature’ in Bengali.