Biparjoy 'slows down', to make landfall by tonight

Pakistan, India brace for fast-approaching Biparjoy; heavy rains expected in south eastern Sindh

Sameer Mandhro June 15, 2023


The powerful tropical cyclone, Biparjoy, is expected to make landfall on Sindh's coastline by nightfall on Thursday and currently lies around 230km south of Karachi.

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman has said that the cyclone has slowed down while the core remains intense.

An infrared satellite picture of Bipajoy's current position on the morning of June 15. PHOTO: PMD

An infrared satellite picture of Biparjoy's current position on the morning of June 15. PHOTO: PMD

Meanwhile, thunder clouds of Cyclone Biparjoy are moving toward Karachi as per the latest reports from weather radars. A thunderstorm is expected in different areas of the city shortly.

On the other hand, heavy rainfall has been reported in Hyderabad.

According to the latest alert issued by the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the cyclone is about 235km south of Thatta and 155km south-southwest of Keti Bandar.

As expected, the Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) nudged towards the northeast on Wednesday, sparing the metropolis of Karachi, and kept on barrelling towards the India-Pakistan border to make the landfall.

"Maximum sustained surface winds are 120-140km/h gusts 150 Km/hour around the system center and sea conditions being phenomenal around the system center with maximum wave height 25-30 feet," reported the PMD in its latest advisory today.

Read Karachi Port braces for stormy weather as threat of Biparjoy looms

"Under the existing upper-level steering winds, the VSCS “BIPARJOY” is likely keep tracking Northeastward and cross between Keti Bandar (Southeast Sindh) and Indian Gujarat coast on 15 June evening as a Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) with packing winds of 100-120km/h gusting 140km/h," the latest alert stated.

The storm appeared to have lost some of its intensity. "With its probable approach to the southeast Sindh coast, widespread wind-dust- and thunder-storm and rain with some extremely heavy falls accompanied with squally winds of 100-120km/h gusting 140km/h is likely in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin, Tharparker, Mirpurkhas & Umerkot districts from 15-17 June," the alert added.

Furthermore, dust- and thunder-storm with some heavy rainfall are expected in Karachi to be accompanied by squally winds of 60-80km/h. Hyderabad, Tando Muhammad Khan, Tando Allayar, Shaheed Benazirabad and Sanghar districts are also likely to be similarly impacted today and tomorrow.

Hub, Lasbella and Khuzdar districts of Balochistan are also expected to experience dust- and thunderstorms in the coming two days.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has said that the possible impact of Biparjoy could include strong winds, rain, and flooding.

"All concerned institutions are on high alert," it said in a tweet this morning urging citizens to "contact the relevant administration and follow their instructions in case of any kind of emergency."

Read more Govt ensures power supply during cyclone

Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said that "all arrangements possible to secure lives of the Pakistani impact frontline have been made".

"Praying that as it makes landfall before or by noon, people stay safe on both sides of the border," she added.

Notably, the NDMA Chairman Lt-Gen Inam Haider Malik said yesterday that 62,000 people have been evacuated from high-risk areas, with 75 relief camps set up at schools and colleges.

Also read Coastal villagers forced to dislocate as Biparjoy approaches

'It is an empty city now'

Heavy to moderate rainfall with squalls has started in Sindh’s coastal areas, creating fear among the stranded population.

Scattered rainfall with gusts has been reported in Thatta, Sujawal, Badin and parts of Tharparkar. Most of the villages along the coast have already been evacuated. Around 70,000 residents have been shifted to relief camps set up in government schools.

“It started at about 5am,” informed Umar, a boatman, living in Keti Bandar, district Thatta. “It continued for more than six hours with gaps,” he added.

It is pertinent to mention here that, forecasters said that the cyclone Biparjoy will make landfall at Keti Bandar by Thursday evening.

“It is an empty city now. Only cats and dogs roam in the town,” Umar explained.

Due to high tides, squalls and rains, water inundated abandoned villages, towns and agricultural lands across the coastal belt.

“It is heavily raining and indicates the intensity of the cyclone,” Aftab Ahmed, a local journalist in Zero Point, some 30 km from Golarchi city of Badin district told The Express Tribune. He said that the weather was really unpredictable. “It stops all of a sudden,” he explained, saying no one was sure if it was going to hit their area today.

Mumtaz Ali from Badin’s Bhugra Memon village told The Express Tribune that only "panic gripped his people, not the weather".

“It is like a normal rainfall,” he said. “But when we check our mobiles, it is scary that cyclone Biparjoy will make landfall in this area,” he added.

The communication and cell phone signals are spotty or not working due to power outages in many areas.

“There is no power supply in taluka Shah Bandar for the last three days,” said Sultan, a resident. He said that a power pole collapsed near Sujawal city and has not been repaired because of the weather.

Medical camps have also been set up in relief camps while ambulances have also been parked in many areas for emergencies.

Army, Rangers and police have also been deployed in many parts of the region and are helping communities shift to safer locations and relief camps. Food and water are being supplied to internally displaced persons living in more than 50 camps.

According to official figures shared by the provincial health department, the total population in high-risk districts is 38,037,206 while the population affected by cyclone could be 308,394 IDPs. It said that 70,352 were living in 51 relief camps of Thatta, Sujawal and Badin while total of 208 pregnant women were staying in camps.

One death has been reported so far in Tharparkar.

Reuters reported that authorities in India's western state of Gujarat have also evacuated more than 75,000 people from vulnerable coastal communities with cyclone Biparjoy expected to whirl in from the Arabian Sea and make landfall by Thursday evening.

In the coastal town of Mandvi in Gujarat, a Reuters witness said while winds were high, the sky was blue and the sun was out on Thursday morning with shops starting to open and people coming out on the streets.

"On Thursday morning, wind speed as high as 90 kmph were reported on Gujarat coast," said a senior IMD official.

"The speed will rise gradually in the next few hours to 120km/h, gusting to 135km/h in the afternoon. We are expecting landfall in the evening when wind speeds would be even higher."

Auditorium halls in schools and other government buildings were converted into relief camps to provide shelter to displaced people in both India and Pakistan.

Ships and boats have been moved from some areas of Pakistan's coast while hospitals in the region were put on high alert as part of preparations for the cyclone.


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