I woke up in the morning an hour before Cyclone Nisarga was supposed to make landfall 40 kilometers south of us. The last bulletin I’d seen talked of sustained wind speeds up to 110 Km/hr with gust speeds going up to 125 Km/hr. I made a tea, and decided to stay in bed. The Family peered out at a cloudy but bright sky. It had rained a lot at night. We looked at the weather bulletin again. No change. By 10 it was clear that landfall was delayed.
I decided to record it for as long as I could: take a 10 second video every half an hour. By mid day we learnt that the cyclone had made landfall further south that the median prediction, so we were now 80 kilometers from its path. Saved by random chance! I kept taking the videos. As you can see here, the rain and storm is like an extreme monsoon day; thankfully no worse. There was no flooding, no power switched off in Mumbai. We had a day in bed, doing nothing except microwaving food form the fridge and washing it down with lots of tea. We were back to normal (!) the next day. Along the track of the cyclone the story was different. Sheer luck that it did not hit a city.
Today is a week since that, and I’ve just had the time to stitch that video together. The seas are warming, and such storms are going to happen again. This is a wake up call for planners. If you thought that the rise of sea levels will be like a bathtub filling up slowly, change the pictures in your mind. It will be full of storms and deadly weather.
Two days after the severe cyclonic cyclonic storm Nisarga missed us at the last minute, we are still trying to get back to normal. Damage was minimal, as you can see from the photos below. The wind stripped leaves off trees, and some branches snapped off. Trees in our neighbourhood remained intact otherwise, though across the city many trees were uprooted. The main damage done to us is disruption. We stashed things in places where they would be safe, and now can’t remember where we’d kept them; we had a long hunt for the soup bowls before dinner last night.
The weather has temporarily changed for the better. A cyclone reaches up above ten kilometers into the atmosphere, and churns the air thoroughly as it passes. So the air has been cool for two days now. It rained on and off yesterday, giving us dramatic views over the sea. Today the sun is out and the sky is clear, so I’m afraid that by tomorrow we will be back to the damp heat of the days before the monsoon sets in.
Yesterday was my second encounter with a cyclone. Fortunately cyclone Nisarga made landfall about 40 kilometers south of earlier predictions, and so missed us by about 80 kilometers. These are enormous disturbances in our atmosphere, so we got rain and high winds all day. But it was the kind of weather we see two or three times every monsoon, so it was not hard to weather. The incident brought back memories of another narrow escape: from typhoon Nangka when I was in Japan five years ago. That was a super typhoon which weakened into a minimal typhoon when it made landfall. The featured photo was taken at Shirasagi-jo, the White Heron Castle in Himeji, a few hours before the landfall. I’m not one to carp at these near misses.
What I say thrice is true, the Bellman said. And I’m not one to question. So let me leave you with these images of invaders in my mother’s pumpkin patch from this week many years ago.
A beetle nymph
Now I softly and silently vanish away. The cyclone that is passing over me right at this moment is no boojum, but I have to take care of a few things.