Climate Change

Biporjoy: Cyclonic storm develops over Arabian Sea, could make landfall in Pakistan or Oman

This is the first cyclone to form in June since 2020

By Rohini Krishnamurthy
Published: Tuesday 06 June 2023

A map by IMD showing the path of BiparjoyA cyclonic storm “Biporjoy” has developed over the east-central and adjoining southeast Arabian Sea, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The system intensified from depression (8.30 am) to deep depression (11.30 am) and a cyclonic storm (5.30 pm) on the same day, June 6, 2023.

In the last six hours, the deep depression over the southeast and adjoining east-central Arabian Sea moved nearly northwards with a speed of 4 kilometres per hour (kmph).

The cyclonic storm is expected to intensify into a severe cyclonic storm in the next 24 hours.

The IMD predicts a very severe cyclonic storm with a wind speed of 115-125 kmph and gusts of 140 kmph on June 8.

A severe cyclonic storm will remain through June 11, shows IMD data. The wind speed is estimated to be 135-145 kmph with gusts of 160 kmph.

The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) model, as visualised by the software Windy, shows that the system is moving towards the Sindh province of Pakistan.

According to the Pakistan Meteorological Department (PMD), the cyclonic storm is 1,420 km south of Karachi.

“Currently none of the Pakistan coastal areas is under any threat. PMD’s cyclone warning centre, Karachi is monitoring the system and will issue an update accordingly,” the met department wrote on its website.

Pakistan has seen cyclonic storms in 1895, 1902, 1907, 1948, 1964, 1985, two in 2007 and 2010, shows data from Pakistan met department. 

Another weather forecast model, Global Forecast System (GFS), predicts a different track. Data visualised by Windy shows that it will likely make landfall in Oman.

It is too early to know where the system will make landfall as the background steering winds are evolving. “Now the system is in the central Arabian Sea. We know it is moving north-northwest direction. We need two-three days more to be certain about the track and landfall,” Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM) in Pune told Down To Earth.

Between 1881 and 2019, 41 tropical cyclone systems made landfall in Oman. They have been associated with extreme winds, storm surges and significant flash floods, often resulting in loss of life and substantial damage to infrastructure.

This is the first cyclone to form in June since 2020, Vineet Kumar, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Climate Change Research, IITM, wrote on Twitter. The last such cyclone emerged in 2019. Cyclone Vayu flooded low-lying coastal towns in Oman.

Climate change link

The sea surface temperatures in the Arabian Sea are 30-32 degrees Celsius. “This is above the climatological mean. This is clearly the climate change link, as Arabian Sea warming is favouring more intense cyclones,” Koll wrote on Twitter. High sea surface temperatures favour the formation of cyclones.

The system will delay the arrival of the southwest monsoon. “The system is driving moisture away from India and is hindering monsoon winds.  There could further cause a delay in the onset and progress of monsoon,” Koll added.

The long-term Indian Ocean warming and the developing El Nino — both have the potential to weaken the monsoon, Koll explained on Twitter. El Nino and La Nina are the warm and cool phases of a recurring climate pattern across the tropical Pacific.

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