KARACHI: A ‘severe tropical cyclone’ about 1140km off Karachi is intensifying gradually and may hit parts of Pakistan and India in coming days, according to Met officials.
The cyclone Nilofar started developing in the northwest Arabian Sea five to seven days ago.
According to an advisory placed by the Met department at its website at about 8pm on Monday, the cyclone is located at latitude 15.5°N and longitude 61.9°E, about 1140km south-southwest of Karachi and 1060km south of Gwadar.
“Meteorological conditions in the region indicate that the severe tropical cyclone may further intensify into a ‘very severe tropical cyclone’ on Monday night. At present the estimated central pressure of the cyclone is 992hPa and the average sustained wind speed around is 65 to 75 gusting up to 85 knots,” it said.
“The sea conditions along the country’s coast will be rough to very rough from Wednesday to Friday. Fishermen in Sindh and Balochistan are advised not to venture in the open sea during the period. The fishermen already in the open sea are advised to return to the coastal areas before Wednesday,” the website said.
Chief meteorologist in Karachi Tausif Alam, who monitors the weather conditions in Sindh and Balochistan, said the cyclone was likely to continue to move west-northwest direction towards the Oman coast over the next 24 to 36 hours.
“It will then re-curve north-eastward and is likely to hit Indian Gujarat and Rann of Kutch and southeast Sindh (Nagarparkar, Mithi, Chor, Umerkot, Chachro and Islamkot), bringing heavy rain/thundershowers with isolated heavy falls at some places accompanied by strong gusty winds between Wednesday and Friday, ” he said.
Under the influence of the weather system, he said, moderate to heavy rains were likely to occur in Thatta, Jati, Keti Bundar, Badin and Karachi between Thursday and Friday.
According to Mr Alam, coastal areas of Balochistan, including Gwadar, Pasni, Jivani and Ormara, will also experience the effect of cyclone on Wednesday. Cyclone Nilofar was similar to that of Phet which passed through Sindh in 2010, he added.
He said the most devastating was the 2007 super cyclonic storm Gonu which had brought high torrential rains in coastal areas and cut off some areas of Balochistan from the rest of the country and also affected Keti Bundar and Thatta.
When asked if climate changes also affected the cyclone pattern in the Arabian Sea, Mr Alam said the pattern was normal given the track record that cyclones in the region either occurred pre-monsoon (May-June) or post-monsoon (Oct-Nov).
According to him, the name of a new tropical cyclone is determined by sequential cycling through lists of names submitted by countries which are member of five tropical cyclone regional bodies.
Cyclone ‘Nilofar’ was named by Pakistan as it was its turn in an alphabetical order. Pakistan is included in the list of Northern Indian Ocean Names and other member countries are Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Mayanmar, Oman, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Six lists are used in rotation and storms are identified using names from an alphabetically arranged list.
Earlier the use of women’s names for cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere and men’s names for cyclones in the Southern Hemisphere were practised. Later the names began alternating.
Standby lists are used to replace retired names in previous lists and any replacement will be added to the bottom of the original list to maintain the alphabetical order.
Previously Oman had named Cyclone ‘Hudhud’ which slammed India’s coast earlier this month.
Sri Lanka’s turn is next on the list with the name Cyclone ‘Priya’, according to the alphabetical arrangement.
HELP SOUGHT: The Karachi commissioner has sought help from the Navy, Pakistan Guards, Pakistan Maritime Security Agency, Rescue 1299 and fishermen’s organisations to bring fishermen back to the coast.
“Given the danger posed by cyclone Nilofar, Commissioner Shoaib Ahmed Siddiqui has directed all departments of the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation (KMC) to ensure implementation of the already enforced Section 144 that prohibits bathing in the sea,” said a press release issued on Monday.
The commissioner also asked the KMC and cantonment boards to remove all vulnerable billboards to prevent any mishap.
Published in Dawn, October 28th, 2014