Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Cyclone Nisarga Menaces Mumbai, Forcing 100,000 to Evacuate in Pandemic

Climate
Coronavirus patients wait to be evacuated on Tuesday ahead of Cyclone Nisarga in Mumbai. Ashish Vaishnav / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

At least 100,000 people were evacuated along India's west coast as the country's financial capital of Mumbai awaits its first cyclone in more than 70 years.


Cyclone Nisarga comes as Mumbai struggles to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The city is the worst hit in India, with more than 40,000 confirmed cases and almost 1,400 deaths, BBC News reported.

"Everything we didn't want to happen right now is happening," one city official said on TV, as The Guardian reported.

Twitter

The storm made landfall around 1 p.m. local time with wind speeds of up to 68 miles per hour, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said, as CNN reported. Before making landfall, it strengthened over the Arabian Sea into to a Severe Cyclonic Storm in the West Pacific, the equivalent of slightly less than a Category 1 Atlantic hurricane. The biggest threat from the storm is likely to be flooding. It is projected to rain heavily and could produce a storm surge of up to 3.3 to 6.6 feet that could swamp parts of Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts.

The storm made landfall in Alibag town, south of Mumbai. Alibag is "Mumbai's answer to Martha's Vineyard," a beach-side town where many of Mumbai's wealthy have vacation homes, The Guardian pointed out.

The storm is the first cyclone to hit Mumbai since 1948, when a storm killed 12 and injured more than 100.

However, scientists say the historically calm Arabian Sea is spawning more cyclones because of changes wrought by the climate crisis, India Today reported.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) found that the Arabian Sea's surface temperature was rising. Tropical cyclones tend to form over waters 30 to 33 degrees Celsius, and that was around the surface temperature of the Arabian Sea when Nisarga consolidated.

IMD also noted that the sea spawned more storms than normal in 2019.

"During 2019, 8 cyclonic storms formed over the Indian seas. Arabian Sea contributed 5 out of these 8 cyclones against the normal of 1 per year, which equals the previous record of 1902 for the highest frequency of cyclones over the Arabian Sea. This year also witnessed development of more intense cyclones over the Arabian Sea," IMD wrote.

These changes are now likely to have real consequences for Mumbai and the surrounding region. BBC correspondent Janhavee Moole said it had been raining in the city since Tuesday.

"I can see the trees shaking violently," Moole said. "All beaches in the city are closed to the public and a police patrol van is making announcements, asking people to stay indoors. All safety precautions possible are being taken, but I do feel worried because the city is also in the grip of a pandemic."

Twitter

Coronavirus patients were among those evacuated ahead of the storm. Around 150 were moved from a newly-built field hospital to a place with a concrete roof that could better withstand high wind speeds, The Guardian reported.

In addition to Mumbai, the storm also threatens people living in shacks or shanties near the coast of the state of Maharashtra, where Mumbai is located. More than 21,000 villagers were evacuated in the state's Palghar district.

The entire state is also the hardest hit in India by the coronavirus pandemic, CNN reported, with more than 72,300 cases and more than 2,400 deaths.

The storm also threatens the state of Gujarat, the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. In Gujarat, more than 50,000 people living along the coast have been evacuated.

"In wake of the coronavirus outbreak all standard operating procedures are being followed at the temporary shelters which have been sanitised and instructions have been issued on following safe distancing," Arpit Sagar, an official in Valsad, Gujarat said, according to The Guardian.

Cyclone Nisarga strikes about two weeks after Cyclone Amphan walloped part of India's east coast, as well as neighboring Bangladesh, killing more than 100, BBC News reported. Cyclone Amphan also intensified over warm ocean surface waters.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A mother walks her children through a fountain on a warm summer day on July 12, 2020 in Hoboken, New Jersey. Gary Hershorn / Getty Images

A heat wave that set in over the South and Southwest left much of the U.S. blanketed in record-breaking triple digit temperatures over the weekend. The widespread and intense heat wave will last for weeks, making the magnitude and duration of its heat impressive, according to The Washington Post.

Read More Show Less
If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus. blackCAT / Getty Images

By Joni Sweet

If you get a call from a number you don't recognize, don't hit decline — it might be a contact tracer calling to let you know that someone you've been near has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of burnt areas of the Amazon rainforest, near Porto Velho, Rondonia state, Brazil, on Aug. 24, 2019. CARLOS FABAL / AFP via Getty Images

NASA scientists say that warmer than average surface sea temperatures in the North Atlantic raise the concern for a more active hurricane season, as well as for wildfires in the Amazon thousands of miles away, according to Newsweek.

Read More Show Less
A baby receives limited treatment at a hospital in Yemen on June 27, 2020. Mohammed Hamoud / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

Oxfam International warned Thursday that up to 12,000 people could die each day by the end of the year as a result of hunger linked to the coronavirus pandemic—a daily death toll surpassing the daily mortality rate from Covid-19 itself.

Read More Show Less
The 2006 oil spill was the largest incident in Philippine history and damaged 1,600 acres of mangrove forests. Shubert Ciencia / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Jun N. Aguirre

An oil spill on July 3 threatens a mangrove forest on the Philippine island of Guimaras, an area only just recovering from the country's largest spill in 2006.

Read More Show Less
People visit Jacksonville Beach on July 4, 2020 in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Public health experts have attributed Florida's growing coronavirus caseload to people gathering in crowds. Sam Greenwood / Getty Images

Florida broke the national record for the most new coronavirus cases reported in a single day on Sunday, with a total of 15,299.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Marco Bottigelli / Moment / Getty Images

By James Shulmeister

Climate Explained is a collaboration between The Conversation, Stuff and the New Zealand Science Media Centre to answer your questions about climate change.

If you have a question you'd like an expert to answer, please send it to climate.change@stuff.co.nz

Read More Show Less