Nisarga - A Debutant Cyclone Ravaged Mumbai and Maharashtra

Gautam Kumar Das

Climate change and global warming have changed almost the nature and behaviour of North Indian Ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea a lot, as witnessed from the series of cyclones with tremendous intensity, havoc wind speed and huge rainfall since the last decade of the century. IPCC predict it long ago that cyclones are more powerful by increasing the potential energy available to them for warming of seas, effectively enhancing their power ceiling or speed limit. Scientists have observed an increasing trend of post-monsoon tropical cyclones over the Arabian Sea, showing towards a detectable increase in cyclonic trends in the pre-monsoon season such as depression in the Arabian Sea is slated to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm Nisarga and is expected to make landfall 80 km north of Mumbai on 3rd June, 2020.

Accordingly, the forecasts of Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Cyclone Nisarga has made landfall close to Alibagh of Raigadh district of Maharashtra near Lat 18.40N and Long 73.00E and 80 km south southeast of Mumbai. Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga crossed the coast between 12.30 IST and 14.30 IST of 3rd June, 2020 with a wind speed of 100-110 km/h gusting to 120 km/h. Cyclone Nisarga has begun to move from Mumbai and Thane districts towards north Maharashtra after making a landfall in Alibagh in Raigad district with a wind speed ranging between 100-110 km/h at afternoon and causing considerable damage to power supply network, roads, houses and trees in the region.

Nisarga pounds state of which Raigad district of Maharashtra is the worst affected district. Four people were killed and severe others injured as Cyclone Nisarga slammed the coastal districts of the state with wind speeds of up to 120 km/h. Raigad and Palghar bore the maximum brunt of the storm experiencing strong winds, heavy rainfall and raging sea surge. Tidal waves measuring up to 6-8 feet lashed parts of the coastal areas of Maharashtra. Tin roofs of houses blew away in some places and several trees and electric poles uprooted. In some districts, officials reported extensive damages of crops. Power supply was disrupted to more than 25 lakh consumers in four districts of Raigad, Palghar, Thane and Pune. In Raigad district, two casualties were reported. Sixteen-year-old Amol Jawalekar died after a tree fell on him in Shrivardhan taluka while he was rushing home for safety. In the second incident, 52-year-old Dashrath Waghmare, a shop keeper died after an electric pole fell on him when he was on his way to inspect the damage to his shop in Umate village. In Pune, Manjabai Anant Navale, 65, a resident of Wahagaon village in Khed taluka, died after a wall of her house collapsed. Three members of her family were also injured in the incident and were shifted to a hospital in Chakan. In another incident, 52-year-old Prakash Mokar from Mokarwadi in Haveli taluka of Pune, died while trying to catch the tin sheets after the roof of his house was blown away. Palghar Collector said there are no reports of loss of life as of now. However, properties have been damaged at several places. Thane Collector said no casualties had been reported from the district. A few incidents of tree falling and damages to houses were reported. Around 4000 people were evacuated in the district. The Raigad Collector said that the Cyclone Nisarga first made landfall at Diveagar. Besides two casualties and destruction of public and private property, there are reports of an extensive damage to crops in the district. Ratnagiri Collector said that there is a lot of damage in Dapoli and Mandangad areas. Many parts of the district plunged into darkness after disruption of power supply.

Further, one large vessel was grounded at Mirya Bunder in Ratnagiri. It was caught in storm by the Cyclone Nisarga and 13 crew members were rescued by villagers. As a precautionary measures power supply to eight substations in Panvel has been cut off by Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited. Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray is in constant contact with district Collectors on the western coast for updates about the impact of Cyclone Nisarga. He is also in constant touch with the Commissioner of the Bombay Municipal Corporation and ward officers and issuing instructions to ensure that the cyclone causes minimum damage. No untoward incident has been reported in southern coast of Gujarat so far due to Cyclone Nisarga which has made landfall in neighbouring Maharashtra. These are almost all about the damages reported by different news agency and media after devastation by the Cyclone Nisarga. Needless to mention that over 45,000 people who are living in kuchha houses in coastal Maharashtra have been identified and they are evacuated to safe location. Municipal schools, marriage halls have been identified for uses as shelter homes for affected people in Maharashtra. Along with this, the coast guards are deployed as well to help fishermen reach back to nearest harbour. 33 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams had been deployed in the coastal districts of Maharashtra and Gujarat in view of the impending Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga. More than 20,000 people from villages near Gujarat coast are evacuated well before the cyclonic storm.

Several hours before the landfall, Nisarga had already announced its impending arrival with heavy rains or showers in the entire coastal region Palghar, Thane, Mumbai, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg accompanied by strong gales of up to 60-70 km/h speed since the morning of 3rd June. Series of such information for Cyclone Nisarga have been issued on regular basis by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) in order to alert the administration and the people. At 11.30 am, IMD issued such a bulletin stating Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga lay centred at 60 km south of Alibagh, 110 km south of Mumbai, close to Raigad district. The right side of the wall closed region passes through coastal Maharashtra covering mainly Raigad district. It will gradually entering into Mumbai and Thane districts during next 3 hours. Already the outer spiral band passes these two districts. Landfall will commence 1 hour and the process will be completed during next 3 hours. Current intensity near centre is 100-110 km/h wind speed gusting to 120 km/h. Observations from the coastal stations by 8.30 am in the morning on 3rd June by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) are as following-

Sl No


Wind Speed (km/h)

Rainfall (mm)





Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) alarms that wind is picking up along the coast. Ratnagiri recorded 55 km/h at 8.30 am in the morning. Squally wind reaching 55-65 km/h gusting to 75 km/h prevails along and off Konkon coast. It will gradually increase becoming 100-110 km/h gusting to 120 km/h in the afternoon during landfall time. A clear and distinct eye is formed and the eye diameter of the Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga is about 65 km as observed through radar. The diameter has decreased during past 01 hour indicating intensification of system, hence wind speed has increased from 85-95 km/h to 90-100 km/h gusting to 110 km/h. Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga moved north northeastwards with a speed of 19 km/h during past 06 hours as reported by IMD at 11.30 am, though previously at 2 am of 3rd June it approached north Maharashtra coast with a speed of 11 km/h. Ultimately Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga crossed the coast between 12.30 IST and 14.30 IST of 3rd June with a wind speed of 100-110 km/h gusting to 120 km/h. During the landfall process, Alibagh, the nearest place of landfall reported 93 km/h wind speed at 1330 hours IST as reported by IMD.

Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga has been considered as the first tropical cyclone since 1891 that hit Maharashtra coast on 3rd June, 2020. Only two depressions, in 1948 and 1980, have come close but never turned into tropical cyclones during June, as per available records. And for India, this is the second cyclone in the season and first in the Arabian sea as the depression intensified into a Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga. At present sea conditions are favourable as the sea surface temperature is around 31-320C, and the vertical wind shear is high around 25-30 knots for the formation of deep depression and cyclones thereon. Again IMD proved its ability to predict cyclone with perfect accuracy and huge lives are saved from the devastation of Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga. Director General of IMD very recently said in an interview that India Meteorological Department is second to none in the field of cyclone forecasting as accuracy has significantly improved in recent years as is evident from decreased number of deaths due to cyclones in recent years. And it is the Indian Meteorological Department who has become the saviour to the Maharashtra state and its Chief Minister that helped in mitigating the intensity of the Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga which had hovered over the state amidst the COVID-19 crisis. Severe Cyclonic Storm Nisarga has gradually been vanishing from the land of Maharashtra, but due to strong westerly winds along the west coast, Mumbai, received rainfall 50 mm in Colaba and 25 mm at Santacruz till 8.30 am on 4th June, the day after storm Nisarga ravaged the Mumbai metropolitan along with the coastal districts of Maharashtra. Moderate spell is very likely to continue for next few hours for Mumbai, the commercial capital of India for a period of quiet after a cyclonic devastation.

Jun 6, 2020

 Gautam Kumar Das

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