After two gusty days in the city, Thursday is expected to be calmer with the winds slowing down, according to the weather forecast. As Cyclone Vayu moved towards Gujarat passing the Maharashtra coast, wind speeds along the state coast ranged from 60-70 kmph on Wednesday, and are expected to further slow down on Thursday.
The India Meteorological Department forecast light to moderate showers and thunder. While the promenades at Nariman Point, Worli and Bandra saw expected crowds through the day, police made regular announcements for people not to stand too close, owing to high waves.
Entrances to beaches at Girgaum, Juhu, Versova, Aksa and Gorai were closed with rope barriers. No one was allowed to enter the beaches, but crowds still thronged the sea front to witness the waves and rough seas. The IMD, which warned fishermen against venturing into the sea on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The maximum temperature in the city fell to 34.6 degrees on Wednesday with heavy rain showers in parts of the city. Colaba recorded 13 mm of rainfall while Santacruz recorded 7 mm of rainfall. Humidity remained high at 81 per cent in Colaba and 64 per cent in Santacruz. IMD officials said thunder and rain showers are likely over the next three days in Thane, Palghar and Mumbai.
On Wednesday, at least two flights were diverted and three flights had to circle overhead several times before they could land at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport. Due to rains, departure of 194 flights and arrival of 192 flights was delayed, airport officials said.
On Wednesday evening, traffic congestion was compounded in south Mumbai by rain and a cement mixer breaking down outside Mahaklaxmi railway station at 7 pm. Heavy pedestrian presence at Haji Ali Junction caused jams as far as Lotus signal in Worli on the northbound lane and Kemp’s Corner on the southbound route.
In central Mumbai, there were traffic snarls at Shindewadi, Parel on Wednesday evening, after a private bus broke down on the northbound lane on the flyover on Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Road and due to a dumper truck breaking down on the south-bound carriageway. Traffic at Kings’s Circle was also affected by pedestrians taking to the road due to the closure of the railway footover bridge.
Vehicular movement on the Jogeshwari-Vikhorli Link Road was also affected by traffic congestion on Adi Sankaracharya Marg along Powai Lake.
Life guards on beaches across the city have been asked to ensure that nobody ventures into the sea, an official said. In Navi Mumbai, coastal police stations have been instructed to ensure fishermen don’t enter the sea.
“Although the cyclone is not expected to hit the area, the IMD has issued a warning and we have alerted citizens and the police stations to remain prepared for any adversities,” Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Kumar said.
Palghar Police has issued an advisory with helpline numbers to ensure that tourists and fishermen were not stranded at sea. “We have signaled all boats to return to land at once and are keeping a close vigil on the coast. We are disseminating weather forecasts on loudspeakers. Life guards and coastal police station are on high alert,” a police spokesperson said.
The Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre also issued advisories to fishermen to avoid venturing into the sea. Commandant V Dogra, Coast Guard’s Regional Operations and Planning Officer, said vessels found in the sea were being directed back to nearest harbours.
Special trains, with six to 10 coaches each, have been put on standby to be moved in emergency situations, while the Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Ltd (DFCCIL) and the Rail Vikas Nigam Ltd (RVNL) have been instructed to provide adequate manpower, JCBs, tree cutters, water tanks, tractors and generators as and when required.
According to BMC’s disaster cell, at least 75 complaints of tree or branches fall was received from across Mumbai. “We have urged citizens not to park their vehicles below old and weak trees,” an official said.
Civic officials also said that there would be low pressure water supply on Thursday. “Bhatsa Dam authorities release water mechanically, but could not do so on Wednesday due to technical reasons, so they released it manually. So, water supplied to the BMC’s water supply system was lower. It is likely to impact the water supply on Thursday,” a BMC official said.