Ochki-driven rains:Mumbai and coastal Maharashtra affected ,to make landfall by midnight in Gujarat
Mumbai: Rains driven by Cyclone Ochki lashed most parts of coastal Konkan in Maharashtra, including Mumbai, as the state remained wary of a potential fallout of the stormy weather here on Tuesday.
The state government, as a precautionary measure, has declared a holiday for all schools here on Tuesday and in the coastal districts of Palghar, Thane, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.
Continuing to remain dark and heavily overcast, Mumbai and its surrounding districts experienced almost continuous rain with bouts of heavy showers since Monday evening.
It has slowed down the road traffic during the morning peak hours.
However, all incoming and outgoing flights at Mumbai Airport are being operated on schedule and the city's lifeline, the suburban local trains, continue to ply unhindered.
The IMD has forecast rains with thundershowers in and around Mumbai with squalls reaching 50-60 kmph and touching 70 kmph in the coastal areas over the next 24 hours, even as the minimum temperature in Mumbai dropped to 20 degrees Celsius.
Danger signals LC-III have been hoisted over all ports between Goa to Dahanu (north Maharashtra), with rough to very rough conditions at sea.
Starting Monday evening, Mumbai suburbs recorded 1.3 cm of rain, while south Mumbai notched 3.29 cm, flooding some low lying areas and leading to water-logging in other places.
The BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation, the state Disaster Management Unit and the railways said they were fully geared up for the cyclonic encounter expected over the next couple of days.
On Tuesday, the Arabian Sea recorded a high tide of 5.04 metres and on Wednesday it will be 5.05 metres, gradually receding to 4.17 metres by Thursday, said a BMC official.
Advising people to stay away from all beaches, the BMC has warned people living in some parts of south Mumbai and suburbs of the possibility of tidal waves flowing into the roads and homes. It has asked them to take adequate precautions.
The Western Railway (WR) said all concerned departments are monitoring the water level on the railway tracks, while the Railway Protection Force and Commercial staff will keep an eye on crowd movement, especially in the areas of Palghar.
"Disaster Management Cell is in readiness for any emergencies. Patrolling of the railway tracks has been intensified over various rail sections,...," CPRO Ravinder Bhakar said.
Technical teams are monitoring critical railway assets and essentials like electricity supply with back-up diesel generators, signals and telecom and breakdown equipment.
Accident relief trains and accident relief medical vans are on standby for any eventuality.
All the BMC disaster units, Mumbai Police, Fire Brigade, the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard, Home Guards and other agencies are in full preparedness for any eventuality arising due to the cyclone.
Adding up to the woes,Gujarat is geared "for the worst situation" as cyclone Ochki, that left a trail of destruction in Tamil Nadu and Kerala, is expected to make landfall near Surat by Tuesday midnight, officials said.
The authorities have closed schools in the region till Wednesday. The Coast Guard has called back around 13,000 fishing boats that ventured into the seas on Monday evening.
However, some 700 boats from Dwarka and around 300 in other places were still out at sea. "We are hopeful of navigating them back with the help of the Coast Guard," Pankaj Kumar, Principal Secretary, Revenue Department, told reporters here.
"The state is fully prepared for the worst situation, if it arises. Right now the Ockhi cyclone is 390 km from Surat and is predicted to hit the city around midnight," he said.
The official said the wind velocity was expected to reach around 60 to 70 km, or even "up to even 80 km per hour in the coastal areas of Surat and Valsad".
Five teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and one of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been stationed at Surat and other coastal areas.
The authorities have also halted works at some 510 construction sites. The administration is preparing to erect small towers for uninterrupted cellular services.
When Ockhi hits the state, it is expected that sea waves could reach heights of up to two meters.