A cyclone is expected to make landfall in Mumbai, India’s financial and entertainment capital, this Wednesday, bringing in high winds and flooding.

Indian authorities have already begun evacuating people in and around Mumbai’s low-lying areas but must contend with the coronavirus outbreak that has devastated the region, making up one third of all infections across the country. India has reported more than 53,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and over 1,600 deaths.

While flooding is common to Mumbai, concerns have arisen on whether the city is prepared to deal with the storm surges and high winds associated with cyclones. This will be the first to make landfall in Mumbai in over a century.

According to the India Meteorological Department, the city will bear witness to winds up to 120km per hour and heavy rainfall in the west coast.

“It is very likely to move nearly northwards during next few hours, recurve north-northeastwards thereafter and cross north Maharashtra and adjoining south Gujarat coast between Harihareshwar and Daman, close to Alibag (Raigad District, Maharashtra) during the afternoon June 3 as a severe cyclonic storm with a maximum sustained wind speed of 100-110 kmph gusting to 120 kmph,” the IMD said in a statement.

Super Cyclone Amphan Threatens Millions

Cyclone Nisarga, as it has been named, comes only a few weeks after Cyclone Amphan ravaged the Bay of Bengal on India’s east coast, killing over 100 people in both India and Bangladesh.

Mumbai is a low-lying and densely packed city and largely exposed to the sea, making it vulnerable to intense flooding in the case of a weather disaster. Now add the coronavirus to the mix and it becomes a recipe for disaster.

The cyclone formed due to an intense area of low pressure in the Arabian Sea and as it hurtles to the city’s near 20 million population, it promises to bring several inches of rainfall throughout the week.

Photo Credit: Hindustan Times

Aisha Mohamed