Extreme weather conditions keep most Karachi citizens indoors

Published May 17, 2021
Commuters make their way through a partially deserted bridge during a nine-day nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Karachi on May 16. - AFP
Commuters make their way through a partially deserted bridge during a nine-day nationwide lockdown imposed to curb the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in Karachi on May 16. - AFP

KARACHI: The metropolis may experience hot/very hot weather with gusty winds during the next two days as the very severe cyclonic storm, Tauktae has moved northward at a speed of 15km/h over the past 12 hours and currently it is at a distance of about 1,000km south-southeast of Karachi, according to the latest advisory issued by the meteorological department at around 10:30pm on Sunday.

“The maximum sustained winds around the system centre are 150-170km/h gusting to 190km/h. The system is likely to move further north/northwest-ward and cross the Indian city of Gujrat by May 17 at night or in the morning on May 18,” it added.

As a result of these environmental conditions, the department has forecast dust/thunderstorm-rains with isolated moderate to heavy falls with gusty winds of 40-60km/h in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparkar, Mirpurkhas, Umerkot and Sanghar districts during May 17 and 19.

“Karachi, Hyderabad, and Shaheed-Benazirabad districts may experience hot/very hot weather with gusty winds during the next two days. Sea conditions will remain rough to very rough and fishermen are advised not to venture into the sea till May 19.”

Heatwave

Sizzling hot and dusty weather caused as the impact of the cyclonic storm Tauktae forced people to stay indoors on Sunday. Although public transport was allowed to run in the city after a week-long ban mostly remained off the road due to the extreme weather conditions.

Vehicular traffic on major city arteries remained thin. Many areas were reportedly hit by water shortage owing to an increased demand.

According to the met department, dusty winds kept blowing throughout the day in the port city. Similar weather conditions are likely to prevail on Monday under the influence of the cyclonic storm present at a distance of around 1,000 kilometres south-southeast of Karachi.

The maximum and minimum temperature recorded in the evening on Sunday was 42.5 degrees Celsius and 28.5 degrees Celsius, respectively, with 17 per cent humidity. The maximum wind speed recorded was 48km/h.

On Monday and Tuesday, the temperature is expected to range between 41 and 43 degrees Celsius.

“The cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea has trapped the sea breeze which has led to very hot and dry weather conditions in the city and adjoining areas. These weather conditions are likely to persist for the next two days during which gusty winds will blow occasionally,” said Sardar Sarfaraz, representing the met department.

There are no chances of rain in the city as the storm has moved eastward, according to him.

The intensity in hot conditions would, however, subside on Wednesday, he added.

Removal of billboards ordered

Commissioner Navid Ahmed Shaikh on Monday said that the city administration was fully prepared to combat the emergency situation during the expected cyclone in the city.

He said that he had directed the deputy commissioners, cantonment boards, civic bodies including KMC and KWSB to remain alert and make efforts to effectively implement the contingency plans for coordination as well as to provide relief to the people during expected cyclone and rains.

To review the arrangements, he visited different areas of the city to see the preparedness and arrangements made by district administrations and civic agencies.

The Cantonment Board Clifton (CBC) briefed the commissioner through a letter that the board was fully prepared to combat the emergency situation and had set up emergency centres in different areas

Meanwhile, the commissioner set up a control room with helpline, 1299, for coordination and help for relief work. Citizens and departments have been asked to contact in any emergency required.

He directed the officials concerned to immediately remove billboards , signboards and any advertisement materials installed in the city to avoid losses of lives and damages to properties.

Body formed to oversee drains’ cleaning

The local government department on Sunday constituted a committee for overseeing the timely cleaning of storm-water drains and successful completion of all matters.

Giving details in this regard, Local Government Secretary Syed Najam Ahmad Shah said that as per the decision taken in the last cabinet meeting, the committee for cleaning of 41 drains of KMC and 514 drains of DMCs had been established and the members of the committee duly notified.

He said that the committee would oversee the timely and transparent completion of the drain cleaning process and would actively carry out its responsibilities.

Mr Shah said that the selection process of contractors would be completed shortly and the procurement process would be scrutinised at the grass-roots level to delivery.

The cyclone, he pointed out, had been given the name ‘Tauktae’ (pronounced Tau’te) by Myanmar. It meant gecko, a highly vocal lizard, in the Burmese language.

Recalling the history of cyclones in Arabian Sea, Mr Sarfaraz said it was in 2010 that the coastal belt of Balochistan was badly hit by heavy rains caused by the cyclonic storm named Phet.

“Initially the coastal cities skipped any major impact of Phet in 2010,” he said. “It was because the cyclone moved and landed on the Oman coast. However, the recurrence of the cyclonic impact led to heavy rains in Balochistan coastal cities and more than 400mm downpour was recorded within less than 24 hours.”

The most destructive cyclone in recent years to hit Pakistan was Cyclone 2A, which slammed into Sindh cities of Thatta and Badin in May 1999 as a strong Category-3 equivalent storm, he said.

“It caused massive destruction and heavy loss of life. After that no cyclonic storm in the Arabian Sea has hit any of our coasts directly.”

In 2007, he said, the coastal cities of Gwadar, Pasni and Ormara were partially hit after Cyclone Yemyin made its landfall along the Balochistan coast.

Minister inspects preparations

Local Government Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah on Sunday visited several areas of districts South, East, West, Keamari and Central and inspected pumping stations and stormwater drains in the wake of the cyclone alert, adds a handout.

Local government secretary Najam Shah, MD water board Asadullah Khan, Karachi metropolitan administrator Laeeq Ahmed, DC South and others accompanied the minister.

The officials briefed the minister about the preparedness to deal with any emergency during the cyclone.

The minister visited Teen Talwar, Shireen Jinnah Colony, Mauripur, Gulshan-i-Iqbal, Nagan Chowrangi, Sakhi Hassan Chowrangi, Gujjar Nala and the pumping stations in various areas of the metropolis.

Minister Nasir Shah told reporters that he reviewed the preparedness of all institutions to deal with the cyclone and that an emergency had been declared in the local government department. Leaves of all employees of the relevant departments had been cancelled, he added.

He said that the Karachi Metropolitan Corporation and district municipal corporations had been directed to monitor the stormwater drains and also clear choking points in their respective areas.

The minister directed the MD water board to ensure an uninterrupted power supply at the pumping stations and make alternative arrangements as well.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2021

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