Mumbai is going to experience its first-ever cyclone. Mumbai has never been hit by a cyclone before. “The sea was brought into the city by the wind; the waves roared fearfully; the tops of the churches were blown off and the immense stones were driven to vast direction; two thousand persons were killed”. This was how a Portuguese historian described one of the earliest recorded powerful storms in Mumbai in May 1618.
The reason for Mumbai’s low risk lies in the weather dynamics of the Arabian Sea. On average the sea sees one or two cyclonic formations every year – far fewer than in the Bay of Bengal. When they do form, they tend to go west towards Oman and the Gulf of Aden. Or they head north towards Gujarat, as with the 1998 cyclone that killed thousands, or last year’s Cyclone Vayu.
This trajectory springs from a few factors. Easterlies nudge the system away from the northwestern coast, says Sridhar Balasubramanian, professor of mechanical engineering at IIT Bombay. He also says “Cyclones tend to move along the ridges.” Even when a strong cyclone forms, it can weaken as it approaches land. “Generally, the dynamics near Mumbai are not conducive for cyclones to thrive,” says Balasubramanian.
As per reports, currently, Cyclone Nisarga is making landfall in the south of Alibaug now with a strong wind speed of 120-140 kmph. IMD says it will affect the coastal districts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Gujarat, and other neighboring states.