THIS map shows the trajectory of Biparjoy, projected by the Zoom Earth tracking portal, as the cyclonic storm makes its way towards the South Asian coast. — Dawn GIS
THIS map shows the trajectory of Biparjoy, projected by the Zoom Earth tracking portal, as the cyclonic storm makes its way towards the South Asian coast. — Dawn GIS

• Cyclone expected to cause storm surge of up to 3.5 metres when it hits S. Asian coast
• Authorities on alert, thousands evacuated from vulnerable areas as several parts of Sindh witness showers, dust storms

KARACHI: Strong winds, showers and high tides herald the coming of Cyclone Biparjoy, which is expected to make landfall between Keti Bandar in Sindh and Kutch in Indian Gujarat sometime tomorrow (Thursday).

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), storm surges of up to 3.5 metres high are expected at the landfall point, which can inundate low-lying settlements along the coastline. As a result, sea conditions along the coasts of Sindh and Balochistan would be extremely rough.

On Tuesday, three people died in the Kutch and Rajkot districts of India, while four boys drowned in Mumbai as thousands of people were evacuated from the coastal regions of both India and Pakistan.

Categorised as a ‘very severe cyclonic storm’ over the northeast Arabian Sea, Biparjoy made its presence felt.

According to a PMD alert issued on Tuesday night, the cyclonic storm had moved further north/northwestward and lay just 380km south of Karachi.

The maximum speed of sustained surface winds is calculated to be between 140 and 150kmph, rising to 170kmph around the centre of the system.

“Under the existing upper-level steering winds, Biparjoy is most likely to track further northward until June 14 morning, then re-curve northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar (southeast Sindh) and Indian Gujarat coast on June 15 afternoon/evening as a very severe cyclonic storm with packing winds of 100-120kmph gusting 140kmph,” the alert said.

On its current trajectory, the cyclonic storm is likely to cause widespread wind and dust storms, as well as thundershowers in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharpar­ker, Mirpurkhas and Umerkot districts until Friday. These may be accompanied by squally winds of up to 120kmph.

Karachi, Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar, Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar are likely to be hit by similar weather, along with squally winds of 60-80kmph, between today and Thursday.

Intensity

Earlier categorized as an extremely severe cyclone storm — weakened into a very severe cyclonic storm over Tuesday night and moved from east-central location to northeast Arabian Sea.

Explaining this change, Chief Meteorologist Dr Sardar Sarfaraz said: “This change … only represents reduced speed of the winds surrounding the system but the cyclone is still severe and can cause a lot of damage especially in areas that would be directly hit,” he said, adding that the cyclone was less severe as compared to the 1999 cyclone.

Asked about the quantum of rainfall being forecast, he said: “It could be 50-60mm within 24 hours.”

Evacuation

Information shared by the Sindh CM House showed that out of the total vulnerable population of 71,380 residing in seven talukas of three districts (as estimated by the government), a total of 56,985 people had been evacuated by Tuesday evening.

Of these, over 22,000 people were evacuated voluntarily. The evacuation took place in Keti Bundar and Ghora Bari, part of Thatta district; Shah Bundar, Jati and Kharochann, part of Sujawal district; Shaheed Fazil Rahu tehsil (district Badin) and Badin.

Thirty-seven relief camps have been set up at different sites including government schools and colleges, The Pakistan Navy said that troops had evacuated 700 people from various villages of Shah Bandar and 64 fishermen were rescued from the sea.

“A cyclone monitoring cell is activated at Headquarters Commander Karachi whereas PN Joint Maritime Information Coordination Center is relaying information at regular intervals to all stakeholders especially fishermen community,” it said in a statement.

Naval emergency response and medical teams had been deployed at coastal areas of Balochistan and rural areas of Sindh including Hyderabad, Shaheed Benazirabad, Sukkur and Sanghar, while naval ships were maintaining vigilance in the open sea, it added.

Federal monitoring

Separately, Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman urged people to stay calm, adding that the federal government was engaged with the Sindh and Balochistan governments for, while the prime minister was supervising risk mitigation and reduction efforts and had directed all relevant ministers to remain engaged on a 24/7 basis until the emergency is resolved.

“The cyclone’s reduced intensity is limited to the Balochistan side, but people in Kund Malir, Hub, Lasbela and Winder are advised to exercise caution. Please don’t take the early warnings casually and remain vigilant,” she said.

Ms Rehman said the intensity of the cyclone may fluctuate, particularly in the vicinity of the Sindh coast, adding that Karachi is likely to experience urban flooding with up to 100mm of rain.

She further stated that the expectation is for the evacuations to be successfully completed by June 14, prior to the cyclone’s anticipated landfall.

The national flag carrier, PIA, also announced that in case of bad weather for flights to Karachi and Sukkur, Lahore or Multan will be used as alternate airports.

Mohammad Asghar in Rawalpindi also contributed to this report

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2023

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