India braces for rains as another cyclone approaches west coast

Developing system threatens damaging winds and flooding rains along the northwest coasts of Maharashtra and Gujarat.

India braces for another tropical cyclone
Developing system threatens damaging winds and flooding rains along the northwest coasts of Maharashtra and Gujarat [Al Jazeera]

Three weeks after devastating Cyclone Amphan hit northeast India, the other side of the country is preparing for the arrival of another developing storm.

This one will not be anywhere near as strong, but it is likely to cause widespread disruption on India’s west coast.

An intense area of low pressure is gathering in the Arabian Sea and is expected to bring heavy and thundery downpours across western India this week.

On Tuesday morning, the weather system was located on the eastern side of the Arabian Sea, about 280 kilometres (174 miles) to the west-southwest of Goa, and around 490km (304 miles) to the south-southwest of Mumbai.

It is making its way north at around 11km/h (6.8 miles per hour), strengthening as it does so. It is forecast to intensify into a cyclonic storm by the end of Tuesday and a severe cyclonic storm through Wednesday.

The centre of the storm is then expected to make landfall somewhere around north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts by Wednesday afternoon.

Mumbai, which has India’s second-largest population (after New Delhi) with 20 million people, will be affected. The metropolitan area could see rainfall totals of about 150-180 millimetres (5-7 inches) over the next few days.

It is the start of the rainy season here, with a May average of 21mm (0.8 inches) compared with the June average of 504mm (19.8 inches). Such heavy rainfall in a short space of time is likely to cause flash flooding in places.

Damaging or severe gales are also expected before the system moves inland and dissipates over the northern plains by the weekend. There will also be large waves and storm surges which could lead to coastal flooding.

Elsewhere, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said the southwest monsoon made landfall in southern India’s Kerala state on Monday (June 1, which is right on schedule).

The IMD added India is likely to receive 102 percent of its long-term average rainfall this year, raising expectations for higher farm output in Asia’s third-biggest economy, which is reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.

Heavy downpours are now lashing the Kerala coast. In July, India is forecast to receive 103 percent of its long-term average rainfall and 97 percent in August.

The IMD defines average, or normal, rainfall as between 96 and 104 percent of a 50-year average of 880mm for the entire four-month season beginning in June.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies