The Pakistan Meteorological Department (Met) has issued a warning regarding the tropical cyclone Vayu and has warned fishermen from Sindh against venturing into the open sea until Friday.
The warning, sent out on Wednesday, suggested sea breeze is likely to remain cutoff between Thursday and Friday which can lead to heatwave-like conditions in coastal areas of Sindh, including Karachi.
The Met department has forecasted temperature in Karachi to swing between 39 to 42 degrees Celsius from Thursday to Saturday.
Acting chief meteorologist Sardar Sarfraz told Dawn on Thursday that the cyclone was around 500-520 km away from Karachi at present and was moving towards the north-west.
He further said that that Vayu would remain stationary for the next 24 hours and later move towards the west.
"For two to three days after that, the cyclone would remain stationary due to which sea breeze will be reduced and humidity will increase in Karachi. On Sunday, this system is expected to be weakened and dissipated," the acting chief meteorologist said.
"There is no danger of the cyclone hitting Karachi. However, heatwave may cause problems for labourers or others who work outside," Sarfraz added.
According to this morning's update, cyclone Vayu had moved further north-northwestward in the East Arabian Sea during last 12 hours.
The cyclone laid at centred around Lat.20.4.N and Long.69.5E at 8:00am this morning, at a distance of about 540 km Southeast of Karachi.
The maximum sustained surface winds were 150-160 km/hour gusting to 175 km/hour around the system centre.
Vayu veers away from Indian coast
The cyclone in the Arabian Sea battered an Indian fishing hub with heavy wind, waves and rain on Thursday and was forecast to bring dangerous weather conditions even as it veered away from the subcontinent's western coast.
The India Meteorological Department said Cyclone Vayu, named after the Hindi word for wind and the season's second major storm, was moving parallel to the coast of the western state of Gujarat, unlikely to hit it head on as previously forecast but instead turn toward the centre of the sea.
In anticipation of the storm, rescue workers evacuated nearly 300,000 people, taking a cue from Cyclone Fani, which came ashore on India's eastern coast in May, killing 34 people in India and 15 in neighboring Bangladesh. An unprecedented evacuation effort that involved relocating about a million people ahead of Fani was credited with saving many lives.
Though not as severe as Fani and unlikely to make landfall, Indian authorities cautioned that Vayu could leave dangerous conditions in its wake. Evacuation efforts continued on Thursday.
“We have alerted people from 70 villages and are trying to tell others to evacuate as well. There is a chance that the storm will pick up pace and become stronger now,” Gujarat state minister Jawaharbhai Chavda said.
In Veraval, a hub of India's fishing industry, heavy wind and rain from Vayu battered the beaches. Fishing boats were splintered by huge waves crashing onto shore. Local police were making a last-minute appeal to hut dwellers to leave their homes.
A blanket of steady rain came down in the coastal city of Porbandar, the birthplace of Indian independence leader Mahatma Gandhi. Though 100 kilometres (62 miles) offshore, Vayu was whipping Porbander with winds up to 60 kilometres (37 miles) per hour.
Pilgrims entered a seaside Hindu temple undeterred by waves crashing against the exterior in the coastal city of Dwarka, which Hindus believe is the center of Lord Krishna's kingdom.
With the worst averted, rescue workers, including 50 teams from the National Disaster Relief Force and around 1,000 Indian navy and army personnel, were searching for any villagers who remained in coastal areas to urge them to relocate to school buildings and other designated evacuation sites.
People were piled into flat-bed trucks and buses and driven away from the shore.
“We expect the high winds to remain until tomorrow morning and some disturbances to remain until around Saturday or Sunday,” said Hemendra Khatma, assistant force commander.
Khatma said no deaths or injuries had been reported.
Karachi's administration on Wednesday also reviewed the arrangements for the implementation of contingency plans made to cope with the expected tropical cyclone and heatwave.
The contingency plan, which was shared in a meeting, was jointly created by the Provincial Disaster Management Authority (PDMA), district administrations, Karachi Metropolitan Corporation, DMCs, Pakistan Navy, cantonment boards, and other relevant departments.
Official sources said that a senior official of the Met department briefed the participants in a high-level meeting on the weather situation, telling them that the tropical cyclone Vayu was expected to hit Thatta and other parts of the province on June 16-17.
The weatherman also told the meeting that Karachi might have a spell of rain and heatwave under the influence of this system.
A PDMA representative told the meeting yesterday that in view of the expected heatwave, an alert had been issued to all the departments concerned, including the deputy commissioners of Karachi.
The meeting, held with Commissioner Iftikhar Shallwani, decided that all deputy commissioners, representatives of the PDMA, KMC, DMCs and Pakistan Navy and other relevant departments would finalise their contingency plans as soon as possible to provide relief and protection to the citizens.
It was decided in the meeting that all deputy commissioners would activate heatwave first response centres in their jurisdictions with the help of the relevant organisations and departments. All district municipal corporations would remove the billboards installed in their district violating the Supreme Court orders.
It was also decided that the SBCA would ensure that the builders as well as the owners of under-construction buildings take steps for the protection of citizens during rains.
The KMC representative assured the meeting that the desilting and cleaning work of the drains would be completed by June 30.