As cyclone Ockhi passed off the Mumbai coast, the city witnessed the highest December rainfall in 142 years Tuesday, with the observatory at Colaba receiving 70.4 mm rainfall and Santacruz receiving 36 mm in 24 hours. “Tuesday’s rainfall broke the record of the all-time highest December rainfall of December 12, 1967, when the city received 31.4 mm rainfall in 24 hours. This is the highest December rainfall since 1875,” said Vishwambhar, a senior scientist at India Meteorological Department.
In the last decade, the city has rarely received any rainfall in the month of December. The last time Mumbai received showers in the winter month was on December 13, 2014, when 1.5 mm rainfall was recorded. December 2008 and 2009 witnessed so little rainfall that it could not be recorded.
“Mumbai does not receive rainfall in December. However, this time the rain is owing to the cyclone Ockhi,” said the scientist.
The mercury too saw a significant dip, with the maximum temperature recorded at 23.3 degrees Celsius, 10 degrees below normal, and the minimum at 21 degrees, one degree below normal. Just a day earlier, the maximum temperature at Santacruz observatory was 33.6 degrees C. “In association with the cyclonic storm Ockhi, parts of Maharashtra are very likely to experience a wet spell during the next three days,” read a statement issued by the weather department.
The IMD has forecast a likelihood of light-to-moderate rain or thundershowers at isolated places in the districts of Konkan, Goa and Madhya Maharashtra on Wednesday and Thursday. While isolated places in the districts of Marathwada and Vidarbha are also likely to have the same climate on Wednesday, the weather there may get dry on Thursday.
The IMD also warned of damage in north Konkan districts of Maharashtra, including Palghar, Thane, Mumbai and Raigad. “Minor damage to loose/ unsecured structures, breaking of tree branches, uprooting of small trees. Minor damage to banana trees. Some damage to agriculture near coast due to salt spray. Damage to ripe paddy crops. Minor damage to kutcha embankments,” read the statement.
As the sea condition remained rough along and off north Maharashtra and south Gujarat coasts Tuesday, fishermen were advised not to venture in the sea. Parts of south Gujarat region, interior parts of north Konkan and north Madhya Maharashtra witnessed strong surface winds ranging from 25-35 kmph to 45 kmph.
According to the IMD, the cyclonic storm moved further north-northeastwards with a speed of 17 kmph Tuesday and weakened into a deep depression and lay centred over east central Arabian sea at 2.30 pm, about 290 km south-southwest of Surat and 160 km west of Mumbai. By 8.30 pm, it had reached 150 km from Mumbai and 243 km from Surat. “The cyclone is likely to dissipate in the sea by Wednesday or it will dissipate in the night before it reaches Surat. It is not likely to have a landfall,” said an IMD official.
“It is very likely to continue to move north-north eastwards, weaken further and cross south Gujarat and adjoining north Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a depression by Tuesday night. However, there is also a probability of dissipation of the system over the sea before the landfall due to unfavourable environmental conditions, like high wind shear and colder sea surface temperatures near the coast,” reads the IMD’s cyclone warning.
The cyclone also affected the sailing plans of the Army which had set out on an expedition from Mumbai to Goa on December 1. After sailing for 50 hours, they reached the Ratnagiri harbour on December 3 for their first halt. They will be waiting at Ratnagiri for at least two days before continuing their onward journey.
“On the first day of the expedition, there was fair wind condition, which was helpful in powering sails. However, on the second day, the condition deteriorated and we faced hardships due to heavy currents, swells and strong winds, caused due to cyclone Ockhi… The adequate training and experience of the sailors helped us address all the challenges and reach the destination well in time, thereby completing the first leg of expedition successfully. The expedition will set off for Goa as soon as the cyclone passes,” said Captain Arpita Dwivedi, one of the two women sailing along with the 64 combatants.
In Navi Mumbai, however, the rainfall was not as high. According to the Navi Mumbai civic body, an average rainfall of 12 mm was recorded between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm. No waterlogging was reported, said a civic official, adding that there was less attendance in the government offices.
According to the Thane Municipal Corporation, Thane and surrounding areas received around 18 mm rain in the last 12 hours. “We had geared up for rains and all our teams were on alert. However, no untoward incident was reported,” said TMC public relations officer Sandeep Malwi.
All 694 registered boats in Palghar were informed of adverse weather conditions, and cautioned not to venture into the ocean.
“We had alerted all fishermen about the storm a couple of days in advance. So far, there aren’t any reported missing boats or loss of life,” added Palghar Superintendent of Police Manjunath Singhe.
A joint bulletin by the IMD and the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS) said the reported rainfall in Palghar district Monday was 8.5 mm, whereas the average rainfall over the years in December across the region was barely 0.3 mm.
In a bulletin by INCOIS, light-to-moderate rainfall with isolated heavy rainfall is likely over north Konkan till the morning of December 6. High waves in the range of 3 to 4.5 m were forecast around 11.30 pm on December 6 along the coast of Maharashtra.
Vivekanand Kadam, District Disaster Management Officer, Palghar, said, “On Tuesday, five mud houses were brought down by the storm. However, nothing happened to the people because we had brought them to safety beforehand.”
Meanwhile, the state government said all 2,605 boats out of total 2,606 had returned safe to Maharashtra. Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said, “There are 142 boats that have come to Maharashtra from other states. The government has provided necessary lodging and food facilities to the fishermen. Once the cyclone subsides, the government will provide them diesel and facilitate their safe return to their home states. All the fishermen are safe.”