Arabian Sea cyclone Nisarga (name contributed by Bangladesh, translating to ‘nature’ in Bengali) formed around Tuesday noon at a distance of 280 km West-North-West of Panjim; 430 km South-South-West of Mumbai; and 640 km South-South-West of Surat, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

It is expected to intensify another round as a severe cyclone by Wednesday morning, move nearly northwards, re-curve to the right (North-North-East) and cross the coast close to Alibag (Raigad district) in the afternoon as a severe cyclone with wind speeds of 100-110 km/hr gusting to 120 km/hr.

Storm surge threat

Mrutyunjaya Mohapatra, Director-General, IMD, said that Nisarga is the first name of a new list contributed by the littoral countries of the North Indian Ocean (comprising the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal). It is also the 65th named cyclone since the naming protocol began in 2004, and the second after super cyclone Amphan during the ongoing season.

The IMD warned that storm surge of about 3-7 ft above astronomical tide could inundate the low-lying areas along Mumbai, Thane and Raigad and of up to three ft in Ratnagiri at the time of landfall of Nisarga. Warning to fishermen along the Karnataka-Goa-Maharashtra-south Gujarat coasts is valid till Wednesday.

Heavy to very heavy rain

The rainfall forecast associated with severe cyclone Nisarga is as follows: Wednesday: Heavy to very heavy t isolated places over Konkan & Goa; isolated heavy over Coastal Karnataka, Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada. Heavy to very heavy to extremely heavy (20 cm or above in 24 hours) over Mumbai, Palgar, Thane, Raigad and North Madhya Maharashtra. Heavy to very heavy over Ratnagiri, Sindhudurg, Goa, Valsad, Navsari, Dang, Daman, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Surat; moderate to heavy over West Madhya Pradesh.

High winds warned

Along its track, Nisarga was already kicking up squally wind (60-70 km/hr) gusting to 80 km/hr) over the East-Central Arabian Sea, the IMD said. It will gradually become gale-force winds (80-90 km/hr gusting to 100 km/hr off the South Maharashtra and Goa coasts from Tuesday evening.

The wind speeds would pick up later in the evening day to 100-110 km/hr gusting to 120 km/hr (severe cyclone) along and off Raigad, Mumbai, Palghar, and from Wednesday morning. Winds may reach 80-90 km/hr gusting to 100 km/hr along and off Valsad, Navsari, Daman and Sindhudurg and to 70-80 km/hr gusting to 90 km/hr along and off Surat, Bharuch, Dadra & Nagar Haveli the same day.

Disturbed sea condition

Squally winds (50-60 km/hr gusting to 70 km/hr) may prevail along and off the remaining districts of South Gujarat coast on Wednesday. Wind speeds would be 50-60 km/hr gusting to 70 km/hr along and off the Karnataka-Goa coasts until Wednesday noon.

The rough to very rough East-Central Arabian Sea (wave heights of 8-13 ft) would become very rough to high (20-30 ft) from Tuesday afternoon. It would worsen further as high to very high (30-40 ft) along and off the Maharashtra and Goa coasts from Tuesday evening to Wednesday very rough to high along and off South Gujarat coast.

Major damage potential

High winds associated with the severe cyclone landfall could cause major damage to thatched houses/huts blowing away rooftops and causing unattached metal sheets to fly. Power and communication lines could snap, kutcha as well as pucca roads may get hit escape routes flooded.

Tree branches may break away, large avenue trees get uprooted, banana and papaya trees felled and large dead tree limbs blown off. Coastal crops, embankments, salt pans also may be damaged. Fishing operations need to be suspended and people remain indoors. Movement in motor boats and small ships is unsafe.

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