The Indian city of Mumbai could be in for a weather phenomenon that has never occurred in its documented history.
A cyclone developing over the Arabian Sea—the second to be forming near India in a fortnight—is expected to make landfall just 110km north of Mumbai on Wednesday evening, likely triggering flash floods all along the state’s coast, including in the metropolitan region.
Winds owing to the cyclone, Nisarga, could reach 115kmph, with gales of up to 125kmph, reports the Times of India.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday issued a red alert for Wednesday, indicating extremely heavy rain at isolated places in Mumbai, Thane, Palghar and Raigad owing to Nisarga.
The Central Water Commission (CWC) warned of possible flash floods in Sindhudurg, Ratnagiri, Palghar, Thane, Mumbai and Nashik, and tidal waves in the coastal regions of north Maharashtra and south Gujarat.
The reason for Mumbai’s low risk from cyclones lies in the weather dynamics of the Arabian Sea.
On average, the sea sees one or two cyclonic formations every year and when they do form, they tend to go west towards Oman and the Gulf of Aden, or head north towards Gujarat, as with the 1998 cyclone that killed thousands, or last year’s Cyclone Vayu.
Nisarga is expected to make landfall in Palghar on Wednesday evening. Ten of the 16 teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been stationed in coastal districts, including three in Mumbai and two in Palghar and Dahanu. Six teams are on standby.
Fishing boats have been asked to come back to the shore. Of nearly 15,000 boats, about 100, mostly in Palghar, with 1,000 fishermen and helpers on board, are yet to report back; the Coast Guard has been instructed to escort them back.