Mumbai: Severe cyclonic storm Nisarga made landfall in Maharashtra at about 1 pm, close to Alibaug amid rains and strong wind across the state’s coastal district. It is forecast to move northeastwards towards Mumbai and Thane, while weakening into a cyclonic storm.
According to an Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin, the centre of the storm crossed the Maharashtra coast close to south of Alibaug. At 2.30 pm, it lay centered over coastal Maharashtra to the southeast of Alibaug, 75 km southeast of Mumbai and 65 km west of Pune.
“It will move northeastwards and weaken into a cyclone storm over the next six hours,” the IMD statement said.
“The eye of the storm starts weakening once the cyclone hits, so Mumbai and Thane will not be hit directly,” said K.S. Hosalikar, Deputy Director General of Meteorology at IMD, Mumbai.
Hosalikar had earlier told ThePrint that Mumbai has been known to miraculously miss any direct hit by cyclones in the past and the IMD has no record of any cyclonic storm having directly hit the city.
Cyclone to weaken
The Raigad district and adjoining areas of Mumbai and Thane are forecast to face wind speeds of 90-100 kmph, gusting to 110 kmph over the next three hours and gradually decrease thereafter. The forecast earlier was for a wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph in these districts.
The districts of Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg and the remaining areas of Thane and Palghar districts will see a wind of 60-80 kmph, gusting to 90 kmph. Gujarat’s Valsad and Navsari districts will see winds of 60-70 kmph, gusting to 80 kmph.
“The storm will move northeastwards and weaken into a cyclonic storm over the next six hours,” the IMD said.
The Maharashtra government in a statement said, “Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has given directions for maintaining a state of operational readiness and to ensure immediate rescue works as the cyclone moves from Mumbai and Thane to North Maharashtra.”
The Covid-necessitated lockdown along with prohibitory orders in most Maharashtra districts, including Mumbai, ensured there were no injuries or loss of life until Wednesday afternoon.
The state government’s ‘Mission Begin Again’ was to be rolled out Wednesday onwards, with permission for walking, jogging, cycling along beaches, promenades and public parks in the first phase. However, CM Thackeray appealed to people late Tuesday to stay home on 3 and 4 June, considering the cyclone.
Alibaug recorded strong winds since morning with the speed at 102 kmph as of 2.30 pm, blowing off some thatched rooftops, loose metal sheets, uprooting trees and impacting network connectivity in some areas.
District Police Superintendent Anil Paraskar told reporters that 13,000 people were evacuated in advance to safe spots and teams of 10 police officials and one government official were positioned in vulnerable villages for effective relief work, if required.
In Mumbai, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) evacuated 10,840 people living in slums close to the coast by Wednesday afternoon and shifted them to 35 transit shelters across the city.
“Another 30,000 had shifted of their own accord, paying heed to the BMC’s warnings. The civic body plans to conduct medical tests of all those evacuated before allowing them to go back to their homes once the cyclone recedes,” Municipal Commissioner Iqbal Chahal told the media, adding the BMC got in touch with the Odisha government to learn from the latter’s experience of dealing with cyclones.
Mumbai’s Colaba weather station recorded a wind speed of 50 kmph, while the Santa Cruz station recorded a wind speed of 26 kmph. By 2.30 pm, the wind speed had slowed down to 15 kmph at both places. There were 37 incidents of trees being uprooted in the city and suburbs, but no injuries and incidents of landslides.