Weather Office Warns of Floods as India, Pakistan Brace for Cyclone

REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro
A man with a mobile phone takes a picture of rising waves before the arrival of the cyclonic storm Biparjoy over the Arabian Sea, in Karachi, Pakistan, June 14, 2023.

AHMEDABAD/MUMBAI (Reuters) – Roads will be flooded along parts of India’s western coast, crops could be damaged and some houses destroyed when a very severe cyclonic storm makes landfall late on Thursday, the country’s weather department said.

On Wednesday, the storm Biparjoy was situated in the Arabian Sea about 280 km (174 miles) from Jakhau Port in the Indian state of Gujarat and 340 km from Pakistan’s largest city Karachi, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

As heavy rain already began pounding coastal regions, authorities evacuated thousands of people.

Pakistan’s Climate Change Minister Sherry Rehman said Karachi, a city of 20 million people, was not under immediate threat, but emergency measures were being taken to deal with accompanying winds and rain that are expected to batter the economic hub.

The IMD criteria for cyclones classified Biparjoy as a category one storm, the least severe on its one-to-five scale.

“It will touch Kutch-Saurashtra coast (in Gujarat) adjoining the Pakistan coast between Mandvi and Karachi and near Jakhau port on June 15 from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. in India (1030-1430 GMT),” Manorama Mohanty, the Gujarat director of the IMD, told reporters.

“As of now, our forecast is it will cross as a very severe cyclonic storm. After crossing, its intensity will fall and become a cyclonic storm and depression.”

Meteorologists said the cyclone packed winds with maximum sustained speeds of 125-135 km (78-84 miles) per hour, gusting up to 150 km (93 miles) per hour, and warned high tides in the Arabian Sea could inundate low-lying areas along the coasts.

Temporary thatched houses could be completely destroyed while standing crops, plantations and roads were expected to face major damage, the IMD said in a statement, adding that railways could also face disruption.


The intensity of rainfall and wind speed has increased in Gujarat and on Thursday, extremely heavy rainfall is expected in some districts, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, director general of the IMD told reporters.

“The cyclone would create tidal waves of 2 to 3 meters and at the same there would be heavy rainfall. This will cause flooding in low-lying areas,” Mohapatra said.

Eight districts in coastal Gujarat are expected to be affected, the state government said. Fishing has been suspended until Friday, schools have declared holidays and beaches were deserted as authorities banned people from using them.

Many offshore oil installations and major ports, which line the coasts of Gujarat, have suspended operations.

Gujarat’s Relief Commissioner Alok Kumar Pandey said 47,000 people in eight coastal districts have been evacuated. In neighboring Pakistan 62,000 people were evacuated from high risk areas, according to the country’s National Disaster Management Authority.

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

Ships and boats have been moved from some areas of Pakistan’s coast and hospitals in the region were put on high alert.

Pakistan authorities said they would also issue a comprehensive advisory on flights to and from airports in the region, including in the southern metropolis of Karachi.