India and Pakistan brace as


New Delhi — India and Pakistan were bracing Tuesday for a powerful blow from Mother Nature, with a tropical cyclone expected to hit India’s western state of Gujarat and southern parts of Pakistan on Thursday. Authorities in the two South Asian nations were evacuating people from coastal areas, halting fishing activities and deploying rescue teams in advance of Cyclone Biparjoy’s arrival.

The storm, with a name that means “disaster” in the regional Bangla language, was expected to make landfall Thursday afternoon between Mandvi in Gujarat and Karachi in Pakistan packing maximum sustained winds over 80 mph with gusts over 90 mph, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Pakistan’s government weather agency said the winds could hit 124 mph.

A boy moves away from the seafront as high waves hit the coast in Mumbai, India, June 13, 2023, as Cyclone Biparjoy makes its way across the Arabian Sea toward the coastlines of India and Pakistan.
A boy moves away from the seafront as high waves hit the coast in Mumbai, India, June 13, 2023, as Cyclone Biparjoy makes its way across the Arabian Sea toward the coastlines of India and Pakistan.

PUNIT PARANJPE/AFP/Getty


The cyclone has “extreme damaging potential,” India’s weather department warned Tuesday even as the storm weakened from an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” to a “very severe cyclonic storm.”

India locks down Gujarat coast as cyclone nears

More than 8,000 people and around 200,000 animals had been evacuated to safer locations on higher ground by Tuesday afternoon in the Kachchh district of Gujarat state, on India’s western Arabian Sea coast, according to federal government official Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya.

Mandaviya said federal agencies were working with disaster management authorities, India’s army, air force, navy, and coast guard to minimize the impact of the cyclone.

Authorities were expected to evacuate more people living within about 6 miles of the coast.

Laxmi Kumar places her son Arvind in a cradle at a temporary shelter for people evacuated from Kandla port, before the arrival of Cyclone Biparjoy, in Gandhidham, Gujarat state, India, June 13, 2023.
Laxmi Kumar places her son Arvind in a cradle at a temporary shelter for people evacuated from Kandla port, before the arrival of Cyclone Biparjoy, in Gandhidham, Gujarat state, India, June 13, 2023.

Reuters/Francis Mascarenhas


Dozens of disaster response teams were sent to the region and arrangements were in place to provide shelter, food and medicine to the people forced to leave their homes, Gujarat Relief Commissioner Alok Pandey said.

Two of India’s largest ports, Mundra and Kandla, were in the expected path of the storm.

The Indian coast guard shared a video of a “nerve-racking mission” by one of its helicopter crews as they rescued people from the jackup rig Key Singapore, a self-elevating sea platform that was already being knocked about by strong cyclonic winds off the Gujarat coast.

Indian Railways canceled more than 65 trains Tuesday with destinations on or near coastal parts of Gujarat. Trains loaded with relief supplies were being kept at the ready, a statement said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with top officials Monday to review disaster preparations.

Pakistan on high alert

In Pakistan, the cyclone was expected to affect the densely populated coastal city of Karachi in Sindh province, as well as parts of the Balochistan region.

Police stop motorcyclists along a closed coastal road in Karachi, Pakistan, June 13, 2023, as Cyclone Biparjoy makes its way across the Arabian Sea toward the coastlines of Pakistan and India.
Police stop motorcyclists along a closed coastal road in Karachi, Pakistan, June 13, 2023, as Cyclone Biparjoy makes its way across the Arabian Sea toward the coastlines of Pakistan and India.

RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty


Authorities in Sindh were preparing to evacuate an estimated 80,000 people to higher ground.

Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s minister for climate change and environmental coordination, said all relevant government agencies in Sindh and Balochistan had been put on high alert.

Biparjoy is on track to be the first major cyclone to hit Pakistan since catastrophic flooding last year left more than 1,700 people dead and caused widespread destruction.


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Experts have warned that with this storm forecast to hit highly populated areas, as many as a third of Pakistan’s 247 million people could face new flooding, including in areas still recovering from the impact of last year’s inundations.

Cyclone Biparjoy and a delayed monsoon

Experts say Cyclone Biparjoy has brewed over the southeast Arabian Sea for weeks, steadily growing and absorbing moisture, but delaying the arrival of the region’s annual monsoon rains as it remained more or less stationary.

The monsoons would typically have arrived by now, breaking the early summer heat with heavy rains, but this year, they have yet to hit.

“An exceptionally warm Arabian Sea, a weak monsoon onset, and favorable Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) conditions in the Indian Ocean are favoring this cyclone. With this, it would not be the case of classic Monsoon onset,” said Dr. Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist with the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and a lead author on the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Climate change fueling cyclones

Experts, including Koll, have long warned that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of cyclones that form over the Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean — paving the way for more extreme flooding to hit large population centers in South Asia.

The increase in cyclone activity in the Arabian Sea is linked to rising ocean temperatures, with warmer water fueling gathering storms with more moisture, making them last longer and drop more rainfall. Last month’s Cyclone Mocha, which grew into a “very severe cyclone,” was a perfect example. Despite warnings and preparations, the storm killed hundreds of people in Myanmar and caused widespread damage in Bangladesh.


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“The oceans have become warmer already on account of climate change,” Dr. Raghu Murtugudde, a professor of atmospheric and oceanic sciences at the University of Maryland and IIT Bombay, told CBS News. “In fact, a recent study shows that the Arabian Sea has warmed up by almost 2.2 degrees Fahrenheit since March, making conditions very much favorable for severe cyclones which sustain the strength for a longer period.”

This may help explain why Biparjoy is expected to become the longest-lasting cyclone in the Arabian Sea, overtaking 2019’s Cyclone Kyarr, which lasted nine days and 15 hours.

“The Indian Ocean is warming, and we know that warm ocean water is the first, and perhaps the key, ingredient for the formation of tropical cyclones, so the system is primed for more storms,” Simon Wang, a climatologist at Utah State University, told CBS News in 2020.

The frequency of cyclones in the Arabian Sea increased by 52% between 1982 and 2019 compared to the two previous decades, according to a 2021 study by Indian climate scientists.





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