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Monday, April 12, 2021

Cyclone Nisarga makes landfall in India’s west coast; are Arabian Sea storms directly linked to climate change?

Cyclone Nisarga, which emerged into a severe cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea, made its landfall on Wednesday afternoon near Alibag in Maharashtra’s Raigad district with wind speeds of up to 120 kmph. Ahead of it, thousands of people including Coronavirus patients were evacuated and moved to safe places. The Mumbai Police also imposed Section 144 in the entire city from midnight to Thursday afternoon, banning people from going to beaches, parks and promenades along the coastline.

Although the storm threatened to flood beaches and low-lying slums in Mumbai, the effect of Nisarga has now lessened, but the next few hours will be quite crucial. Not to miss, Nisarga is the worst cyclone to hit the region in more than 70 years. As for the effect, the cyclone has already uprooted several trees so far with electric poles falling down, mobile network services have been disrupted, flights at the Mumbai airport were suspended for a few hours, and traffic has been restricted on Bandra-Worli Sea Link until further notice.

 

At a time when India, specially Mumbai, is already grappling with the effect of COVID-19, Nisarga is the second cyclone to strike in less than two weeks. On May 21, Cyclone Amphan hit the eastern coast including Kolkata, and neighbouring Bangladesh. It killed more than 100 people while leaving a trail of destruction. However, it is rather interesting to note that in the past two years, several cyclones have hit the Arabian Sea. Clearly, experts believe that it is linked with climate change.

Reportedly, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), claimed in its special analysis titled ‘Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate’ that extreme rainfall and extreme sea level events are often associated with some tropical cyclones that have a cascading impact on coastal areas. “There is emerging evidence for an increase in annual global proportion of category 4 or 5 tropical cyclones in recent decades,” the IPCC report had said. It concluded that climate change had led to an increase in the occurrence of extremely severe cyclonic storms (ESCS) in the Arabian Sea.

Nonetheless, post-monsoon flooding is a common affair in Mumbai, but how the city now battles with strong winds and storm amid the scare of COVID-19, is still left to be seen.

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