After dumping rains in Mumbai, Cyclone Ockhi moved closer to Gujarat today and the landfall was likely near Surat, as several top leaders were forced to cancel their rallies in the poll-bound state which experienced showers.
The cyclonic storm passed the Mumbai coast bringing rains in its wake but did not cause any damage to life or property, a senior civic official said. It earlier caused havoc in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Lakshadweep islands.
Due to the impact of the cyclone, Mumbai and its suburbs experienced rains since the morning, but it subsided by the afternoon even as hailstorm lashed some sections of the Munbai-Pune Expressway. The country's financial capital had also experienced showers last night.
As Gujarat remained on alert, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appealed to BJP workers to extend a helping hand to those that would be likely hit by the cyclone, which is expected to make a landfall around midnight tonight on the state's southern coast in Surat.
Modi also said he is constantly monitoring the situation in various parts of the country. "Spoke to all relevant authorities and officials. All possible assistance is being provided to those affected," he tweeted.
The cyclone is approaching Gujarat steadily and now lies centred in the Arabian Sea just 390 km away from Surat, said an official of the Meteorological Centre in Ahmedabad earlier in the day.
As per the latest bulletin of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the cyclone is expected to hit the coastline near Surat by midnight tonight.
"It is very likely to continue to move north- northwestwards, weaken gradually and cross south Gujarat and adjoining Maharashtra coasts near Surat as a deep depression by the night of December 5," it said.
Several districts in Gujarat received light rain since morning, even as almost the entire state experienced overcast skies.
The IMD has forecast light to moderate rainfall in most places with heavy rainfall at isolated places in Saurashtra and south Gujarat.
It has warned that when the cyclone hits the Gujarat coast, "wind speed would remain between 50 and 60 kmph and may reach up to 70 kmph in south Gujarat."
According to principal secretary in the state revenue department, Pankaj Kumar, at least nine districts including Rajkot have received light showers or drizzle since this morning.
Gujarat's chief secretary J N Singh convened a video conference with the collectors of coastal districts to review their preparedness to deal with any eventuality, Kumar said.
Joint Secretary in the Union Home ministry Sanjeev Kumar Jindal said the cyclone is slowing down and would have no impact in Gujarat, where the first phase of the two-phase assembly election is due on Saturday.
The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) asked fishermen in both eastern and western coasts not to venture out in the sea for the next three days as heavy rainfall is expected in many areas due to the cyclone.
The traffic on Eastern and Western Express Highways in Mumbai slowed down after rain lashed some parts of the city throughout last night.
There were traffic curbs in some places in view of the expected rush of followers of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar on his death anniversary tomorrow.
The weather department in Mumbai has forecast intermittent rains in the country's commercial capital and suburbs in the next 24 hours.
"Heavy rainfall is likely at a few places with squally wind speed reaching 50 to 60 kms per hour gusting to 70 kms per hour very likely along coastal area in next 24 hours," the weather department said.
A few spells of rain or thundershowers are likely to occur in the city and suburbs in next 48 hours, the IMD said.
After an alert by the IMD Mumbai observatory, the state government announced a holiday today for schools in Mumbai, Sindhudurg, Thane, Raigad and Palghar districts.
BJP President Amit Shah's poll rallies scheduled today in Rajula town of Amreli and Mahuva and Shihor of Bhavnagar district have been cancelled, a party release said.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi held a poll rally in Anjar but cancelled three in Morbi, Dhrangadhra and Surendranagar due to the impending cyclone.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari's roadshow in Bapunagar area of Ahmedabad was also cancelled due to light showers since early morning, Bapunagar MLA Jagroopsinh Rajput said.
The BJP has also called off rallies and press conferences of Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Surat today, a party leader said.
"With CycloneOckhi expected to make a landfall in Gujarat, I appeal to BJP Gujarat Karyakartas (workers) to focus on helping people across the state. Our Karyakartas should devote themselves to providing all possible assistance and stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow citizens," Modi tweeted.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)