A severe cyclonic storm with wind speeds from 100 to 120 kmph (60 to 75 mph) has touched down on India's west coast. It has already hit areas near Mumbai, the financial and entertainment heart of India, and would be the first major cyclone to hit the region in 30 years.
The eye of the cyclone has come dangerously close to the city that has already been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. 40,000 confirmed virus cases, and almost 1,400 deaths have already been attributed to the disease and now officials are contending with the threat of the cyclone. Officials are evacuating tens of thousands of people out of the way of the storm. Most public places have been closed and police are patroling for stragglers.
"Mumbai hasn't seen a severe cyclonic storm in over 70 years," Adam Sobel, a professor of atmospheric science at Columbia University, told the BBC .
"The track forecast is bad for Mumbai, but the intensity forecast is good relative to what it was 12 hours ago when some models were predicting it could become much more powerful," he said.
"So the chance of a worst case scenario is now greatly reduced. However, a severe cyclonic storm can still be dangerous, so people should be prepared. And there is still time for things to change, so everyone in the area should monitor the forecast completely," he added. Mumbai has been put on "orange" alert with the "possibility of extremely heavy rain to a very heavy rainfall at a few places."
Unlike India's eastern coast, cyclones are unusual on the country's western shore. Nisarga comes barely two weeks after Cyclone Amphan struck, devastating parts of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) on the east coast. The cyclone killed more than 100 people in the Indian states of West Bengal and Orissa, as well as neighbouring Bangladesh.