Cyclone Nisarga hits Raigad, Palghar and Pune districts in Maharashtra but spares Mumbai, Gujarat; likely to weaken in six hours

After hitting the Maharashtra coast with wind speeds of up to 120 kmph on Wednesday afternoon, Cyclone Nisarga weakened into a 'cyclonic storm' in the evening, the India Meteorological Department said.

FP Staff June 03, 2020 21:19:26 IST
Cyclone Nisarga hits Raigad, Palghar and Pune districts in Maharashtra but spares Mumbai, Gujarat; likely to weaken in six hours

Cyclone Nisarga, the first cyclonic storm to hit the west coast in June in over 70 years, killed at least three people in Maharashtra and uprooted several trees in Raigad, Palghar and Pune districts. It, however, spared the country's financial capital Mumbai, and skirted right past it, making landfall in Alibaug and moving in the north-east direction thereafter.

It is now likely to impact Nashik, Dhule and Nandurbar districts, which may witness heavy showers with gusty winds, an IMD official said. The landfall process started near Alibaug at around 1 pm and ended by 4 pm, he said.

Cyclone Nisarga hits Raigad Palghar and Pune districts in Maharashtra but spares Mumbai Gujarat likely to weaken in six hours

Satellite image of Cyclone Nisarga just before landfall. IMD

Two people died and three were injured in two separate cyclone-related incidents in Pune district, an official said. A 58-year-old man was killed after a power transformer collapsed on him due to the heavy winds in Raigad district.

The cyclone slammed the Maharashtra coast with wind speeds of up to 120 kilometre per hour, making landfall at 12.30 pm at Alibaug in Raigad district near Mumbai. The process was completed by 2.30 pm, a senior IMD official said.

After hitting the Maharashtra coast with wind speeds of up to 120 kmph on Wednesday afternoon, Cyclone Nisarga weakened into a 'cyclonic storm' in the evening, the India Meteorological Department said.

By 4 pm, the cyclone had started weakening with wind speeds of 90-100 kilometres per hour.

The storm currently lays over Raigad and Pune districts. The current wind speed of the storm has also reduced to 65-75 kilometres per hour, the IMD said in a bulletin at 6.30 PM. The cyclone will further weaken into a deep depression by late night, the IMD bulletin said.

Mumbaikars and people in neighbouring areas, including those in coastal Gujarat districts had braced for the cyclone but heaved a sigh of relief as Nisarga's damage appeared limited to uprooting of trees in affected areas.

Ahead of Nisarga's landfall, thousands of people in its path were evacuated, trains rescheduled, flights cancelled, fishermen ordered out of the seas and rescue workers were put on standby.

This was the first major cyclone Mumbai would have faced in 72 years, according to Adam Sobel, a professor of atmospheric science at Columbia University in New York.

The cyclone also did not cause any major damage along the Gujarat coast, said state relief commissioner Harshad Patel.

"No untoward incident or human injury has been reported so far due to the cyclone. While the wind speed was normal in south Gujarat region, both Valsad and Navsari received just 2 mm and 7 mm rainfall since morning. The situation is under control," he said.

Bracing for the cyclone, the Gujarat government had earlier evacuated over 63,700 people from coastal areas of eight districts and 18 teams of National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and six teams of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) were deployed for rescue operations.

Cyclone Nisarga hits Raigad Palghar and Pune districts in Maharashtra but spares Mumbai Gujarat likely to weaken in six hours

Cyclone Nisarga uprooted several trees in Raigad, Palghar and Pune districts. News18

Nisarga blew in from the Arabian Sea, making landfall at the coastal town Alibaug.

Cyclone Nisarga came a week after Cyclone Amphan wreaked havoc in West Bengal.The IMD had said kuccha houses, trees, electric poles may fall as they may not be able to withstand the speed of the storm. However, as the cyclone weakened into a depression, it was clear that the extent of damage was far lesser than anticipated.

Pune-based Sucheta Nadkarny, 81, who lived in suburban Vile Parle during the last major cyclone to hit Mumbai in 1948 said, "I remember huge trees in our area were uprooted and plants in our garden destroyed."

"I was 10 years old then and remember this because my mother was heartbroken as the plants she had lovingly nurtured were destroyed," Nadkarny told PTI.

Ahead of Nisarga's landfall, the state government authorities had asked people in vulnerable areas to shift to safer places.

The Central Railway (CR) rescheduled special trains and many airlines also cancelled their Mumbai operations. Flight operations at the Mumbai airport, suspended at 2.30 pm, resumed in the evening around 6 pm, a spokesperson of GVK said.

Maharashtra and Gujarat had activated their disaster response mechanism, deploying NDRF teams and evacuating people from areas in the cyclone's path.

Authorities in Gujarat had shifted over 63,700 people living close to the coast in eight districts to safer places as a precautionary measure, an official said.

All fishing boats which were out in the sea off Palghar coast in Maharashtra returned before the landfall, an official said.

As many as 577 fishing boats from Palghar had gone out in the sea and till Monday evening, 564 came back. Later, help was sought from the Coast Guard, Navy and the fisheries department and the remaining 13 boats also returned to the shore late Tuesday evening.

The threat posed by Nisarga to Mumbai has lessened, but the next few hours will be crucial, Maharashtra Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said. Authorities in Pune, Nashik and Ahmednagar are on alert considering the trajectory of the cyclone, he said.

"Though the threat posed to Mumbai by the cyclone has reduced, the next few hours will be quite crucial. The cyclone can have influence over an average of 200 km from its eye," the minister tweeted.

Ahead of the cyclone landfall, carnivorous animals in Mumbai zoo were shifted to holding areas in their enclosures to keep them safe from rain and strong winds, an official said.

Since the city has been experiencing rain, authorities at the Veermata Jijabai Udyan, also popularly known as Byculla Zoo which is spread over an area of 50 acres, took all steps to protect the animals against the rough weather, he said.

Tigers, leopards and hyenas were shifted to holding areas, an official from the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) said.

With inputs from PTI

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