Cyclone Nisarga may bring in gale force winds of around 120 kmph as coastal areas in Maharashtra, Gujarat brace for impact

FP Staff

Cyclone Nisarga is fast approaching the coast of Maharashtra and Gujarat and will remain a severe cyclonic storm system till the evening on Wednesday, with wind reaching a maximum sustained speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph, a bulletin from the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) bulletin said.

In a tweet, the IMD said the diameter of the eye is about 65 km as observed through the radar.

As of Tuesday night, the storm lay centred over the East Central Arabian Sea, 290 kilometres west-northwest of Panjim, 290 kilometres south-southwest of Mumbai, 250 kilometres south-southwest of Alibaug and 500 kilometres south-southwest of Surat. It is likely to move north-northeastwards, the storm is expected to cross north Maharashtra and the adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibaug on Wednesday afternoon.

Nisarga is predicted to reduce in intensity to a cyclonic storm by Wednesday evening and then a deep depression by night, the bulletin said. North Konkan (comprising Mumbai, Palghar, Thane and Raigad districts) and north Madhya Maharashtra are expected to witness heavy rains on Wednesday, while light to moderate rainfall has been predicted over coastal Karnataka and Marathawada and west Madhya Pradesh. "Light to moderate rainfall at most places with heavy to very heavy falls at isolated places over south Konkan (Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts) and Goa and south Gujarat region (Valsad, Navsari, Dang, Daman, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Surat districts)," the bulletin read.

The Arabian Sea is likely to be very rough over the northeast along and off the south Gujarat coast and fishermen have been advised to completely suspend operations. Major damage to thatched houses and huts, roads, power and communication lines, embankments and coastal crops is expected. The strong winds are also expected to cause damage to trees, the IMD warning said.

Cyclone Nisarga is the first such storm Mumbai will witness in over a century. It is expected to make landfall near Alibaug. Over 1,00,000 people, including some coronavirus patients, have been moved to safer locations in Mumbai, a report claimed. "The cyclone could be more severe than the ones the state has faced till now. Activities which had resumed (as part of easing of lockdown) will be kept shut there for the next two days, people should remain alert," Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray said.

Over 30 NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) teams have been deployed in areas expected to be affected along Maharashtra and Gujarat coasts. One NDRF team consists of 45 personnel. Three NDRF teams have been stationed in Mumbai, with two in Palghar and one each in Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

A control room has been established at the Maharashtra secretariat building and will be operational round the clock. Instructions have also been given to the Army, Air Force, Navy and the IMD to ensure coordination. Around 20,000 people from 47 coastal villages in Gujarat's Valsad and Navsari districts were evacuated, PTI reported.

Cyclone Amphan, one of the worst storms to have formed over the Bay of Bengal in recent years, struck West Bengal and parts of Odisha last month, killing nearly 100 people and affecting lakhs. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee estimated the damage done at Rs 1 lakh crore.

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