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Mumbai braces for highest tide in 100 years
(photographs by Elidio)
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Mumbai braces for highest tide in 100 years
MUMBAI: Nearly 200 people have been evacuated from coastal areas, warnings have been sent out to those in low-lying regions and schools have
advised students to stay at home as India's financial capital braces for a massive 5.5 metre high tidal wave, billed as the highest in 100 years, to lash it Friday afternoon. ( Watch )
The high tide is expected to hit Mumbai and the surrounding Konkan region after 2pm. The waters will ebb only after three to four hours, met officials said.
In the past two days, as waves measuring 4.85 and 5.1 metres lashed Mumbai, civic and disaster management authorities evacuated people -- mostly shanty dwellers -- from vulnerable areas like Colaba, Cuffe Parade, Andheri, Jogeshwari and even parts of neighbouring Thane.
The Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) has issued warnings to people in low-lying areas to watch out for the gigantic tide Friday and take adequate precautions.
On Thursday, sea water rushed into several buildings in Cuffe Parade, Worli, Dadar, Prabhadevi, Andheri, Juhu, Khar and Malad.
Even mayor Shubha Raul's official bungalow at Shivaji Park in Dadar was not spared. The huge waves knocked down a compound wall.
In Thane, the district adjacent to Mumbai, waterlogging attributed to the high tide was reported from residential areas in places like Uttan, Palghar, Boisar and Dahanu but there have been no casualties so far.
Some schools have advised students to stay at home in view of the high tide, but there has been no official announcement of closure by the government.
However, for many Mumbaikars, the tides offered a rare view of a natural phenomenon after clouds obscured the solar eclipse Wednesday.
Thousands of people excitedly saw the tides from a safe distance at places like Colaba, Marine Drive, Girgaum Chowpatty, Worli Sea-Face, Bandra Bandstand, Juhu Beach, Gorai Beach and Marve Beach yesterday. Today, greater numbers are expected.
Crowds had assembled even at the Thane Creek and commuters were seen craning their necks to see the swirling waters as the trains crossed the railway bridges at Bhayander Creek.
Last week, the MCGM had inserted big and small advertisements in newspapers, warning people of the potential damage that could be wreaked by the high tides and contact details for emergency services.
As many as 11 hotlines have been established and 34 rain gauges have been installed from where round-the-clock information is being collected. Control rooms have been set up at all the 24 civic wards.
Officials said that MCGM would also monitor the situation in flood-prone areas through CCTVs.
MUMBAI: Such is the timing of the high tides this year that Mumbaikars, it seems, may have to brace themselves against flooding from the first
day of monsoon itself. Data provided by the BMC shows that the city will witness high tides over the 4.5-m mark from Monday to Saturday, just when the first showers are expected to lash the city. It rained in some parts of Mumbai and the suburbs on Sunday.
While Thursday will see the highest tide of the month-4.97 m at 2:24 pm, Wednesday will witness a tide of 4.95 m at 1:41 pm. However, according to civic officials, this will pose a problem if heavy rain coincides with the high tide.
Meanwhile, Met officials said that the monsoon is almost here and the rain-bearing clouds are advancing at a fast pace. "The monsoon has advanced on more parts of the central Arabian sea, central Maharashtra, north Konkan and most parts of Karnataka. In fact, it has now reached Alibaug, Pune, Sholapur and
Hyderabad. There is a lot of monsoon-related development and thunder clouds are looming over the city. We are hoping that the clouds precipitate in a day or two,'' said Dr R V Sharma, deputy director general of meteorology in Mumbai.
The civic body has been preparing for a spate of high tides coupled with heavy rains in the months of June, July and August and they claim they are prepared to face such a combination even at an early stage. While officials admit that the first showers are always more difficult to handle than the ones that come later, they are hopeful that the city will not be thrown out of gear. "We are trying to minimise inconvenience as far as possible. Usually, the first heavy showers cause flooding as a lot of floating material and other dirty matter gets washed out. Once that is cleared, by July, everything gets acclimatised to the monsoon,'' said S S Shinde, deputy municipal commissioner (disaster management). "Though low-lying areas will get flooded when it rains heavily, the problems will not be severe,'' he added.
Having taken many flood-mitigation measures-widening and de-silting the Mithi River, widening drains and clearing railway drains-the BMC is expecting luck to also play a part in determining if the city goes under this monsoon.
According to officials, Mumbai will be able to cope with rain of up to 350 mm on non-high tide days. Even if there is water-logging, the water should recede quickly in low-lying areas. The weather department pegs rainfall between 124.5 and 244.4 mm as very heavy rain and rainfall more than 244.5 mm as extremely heavy rain. "As soon as there is low tide, the water starts receding. There is no reason to worry,'' said Shinde.
According to officials, if the city gets even 75 mm of rain when the tide is high on new moon days, water-logging of up to 25 ft can occur and this may not recede before the next high tide. "Mumbai was hit by heavy rain on July 26, 2005 and people were stranded for hours because the water did not recede before the next high tide. But at that time, the intensity of the rain was too high and a 24-hour rainfall figure of 994 mm was recorded,'' said an official.
Mumbai on high alert for high tide
Battling with drinking water scarcity, Mumbai might not have minded the rains even if it meant missing the solar eclipse. But in the next few days, very high tides may clash with heavy rains. But is Mumbai ready for that?
Mumbai may face more problems if it continues to rain heavily over the next few days - days on which, the city by the sea will see the highest tides of the season at about five metres.
HIGH TIDE: HIGH ALERT!
23 July 01.23 pm 5.01 m
24 July 02.03 pm 5.05 m
25 July 02.43 pm 4.94 m
"If it does not rain heavily, then Mumbai has no reason to worry. If it does then we will alert everyone and act," said Jairaj Phatak, Municipal Commissioner, BMC.
The civic body has instructed the fire brigade, coast guard and Navy to be on alert even placing full page advertisements in newspapers.
- Not move out during heavy rains unless extremely necessary
- Monitor media for weather updates before leaving home
- Be alert especially if they live in low-lying areas
- And always carry a few eatables and safe drinking water
On that cautionary note, a few schools have asked students to stay at home on the high tide dates.
The bottom line: be cautious if it's pouring no need to worry otherwise.