Looming cyclone threat upends life in Sindh’s coastal belt

Published October 1, 2021
(CLOCKWISE) Despite fears of an approaching cyclone, a number of people reach Seaview to enjoy the weather; an electric pole falls on a parked car near Frere Hall due to strong winds; dark clouds hovering overhead in Defence; the area of Clifton near Teen Talwar receives light rain on Thursday.— Online / Fahim Siddiqi
(CLOCKWISE) Despite fears of an approaching cyclone, a number of people reach Seaview to enjoy the weather; an electric pole falls on a parked car near Frere Hall due to strong winds; dark clouds hovering overhead in Defence; the area of Clifton near Teen Talwar receives light rain on Thursday.— Online / Fahim Siddiqi

KARACHI: With the weather system getting stronger and strengthening further into a cyclonic storm, the city life remained on the edge witnessing stronger winds that uprooted several structures, including poles, and scattered drizzling on Thursday as authorities warned that Karachi and other coastal cities of Sindh and Balochistan were expected to be buffeted by gusty winds and heavy showers when the cyclone passes by in the Arabian Sea by Friday morning.

Due to the uncertain situation, the Sindh government on Thursday night announced that all educational institutions across the province would remain closed.

The Met office in its latest alert of the day [Thursday] said that the growing depression in the Arabian Sea was at 240-kilometer east-southeast of Karachi warning that the system was likely to strengthen further into a cyclonic storm during next 12 to 18 hours and move west-northwestwards.

“The depression over northeast Arabian Sea has moved west-northwestwards at a speed of 20km/hr during last 12 hours, now lies at a distance of about 240 km east-southeast of Karachi, 200km from Thatta and 410km from Ormara. The system is likely to strengthen further into a cyclonic storm during next 12-18 hours,” it said, requesting all authorities concerned to remain ‘high alert’ during the forecast period.

While monitoring the situation closely, the Met office advised fishermen not to venture into the sea till Oct 3 due to “very rough” sea condition in next three days.

Heavy rainfall likely today; govt announces schools closure

The Karachi Port Trust (KPT) has also issued a red alert ahead of the tropical cyclone, while all the civic bodies and Sindh government have declared a rain emergency in their respective departments.

Cyclone Shaheen

In its updated advisory, the Met office predicted “squally winds” with thunderstorms and sometimes “extremely heavy rains” in different parts of Sindh.

It also made clear that if the deep depression in the Arabian Sea turned into a cyclone it would be called ‘Shaheen’ as suggested by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and the United Nations’ Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) Panel on Tropical Cyclone.

“Widespread rain-wind-thunderstorms with scattered heavy/very heavy falls, extremely heavy at times, accompanied with squally winds are likely in Karachi, Hyderabad, Thatta, Badin, Mirpurkhas, Tharparkar, Umerkot, Sanghar, Shaheed Benazirabad, Naushahro Feroze, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar, Dadu, Jamshoro, Sukkur, Larkana, Jacobabad, Shikarpur and Ghotki districts from tonight 30 Sep (Thursday) to 2nd Oct (Saturday),” it said.

Sardar Sarfaraz of the Met office described Thursday’s weather as mostly normal. He termed “the situation still serious if the system doesn’t turn into a cyclone.”

“It’s expected to induce widespread rains and high winds as it moves closer to our coast. The weather system would likely to turn into deep depression by night and then into a cyclone by 11am to 12pm on Friday,” he said.

Most parts of the city received downpour in different hours of the day, but none of them could get countable rain and only traces were found in the city areas.

The city life on the other hand remained on edge with a kind of panic like situation amid wide coverage of the developing cyclone by the broadcast media.

Strong winds cause damage

Karachiites witnessed strong winds throughout the day that entered the city early in the morning touching the maximum speed level of 42 kilometres per hour.

The city weather that remained extremely hot on Wednesday turned pleasant as the maximum temperature was 33.5 degree Celsius with 66 per cent humidity.

The strong winds caused isolated incidents in different parts of the city when a few structures fell without hurting anyone.

On main Rashid Minhas Road, a couple of poles carrying streetlights came down to the road.

An official at the Sharea Faisal police station said that the poles installed over the bridge connecting Rashid Minhas Road with COD Road fell down amid heavy winds, but the incident only caused damage to a parked rickshaw.

The traffic remained suspended on the bridge which was restored after a couple of hours.

An almost similar incident was witnessed in the parking area of Frere Hall where a pole fell over a car badly damaging the four-wheeler.

Near Ibrahim Hyderi shores, a boat of five fishermen was rescued by another boat when it capsized in the high tides. An official of the Fishermen’s Cooperative Society said all the fishermen were rescued after the timely arrival of another boat.

Published in Dawn, October 1st, 2021

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