Planet Earth

Cyclone Warfare Between India and Pakistan?

The IntersectionBy Chris MooneyJun 28, 2007 8:38 PM


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Cyclone 03B (or Yemyin) making landfall in Pakistan on Tuesday. Note the well defined structure, including a cloud filled central eye region. When do international politics interfere with protecting vulnerable people from hurricanes? Possibly when India has to provide storm warnings for Pakistan. Jeff Masters and Margie Kieper are blogging about an unfolding scandcal concerning cyclone 03B (or Yemyin), which regenerated earlier this week in the Arabian Sea, intensified, and went on to strike Pakistan. The storm's floods left 250,000 homeless, and guess what: The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), which has been given forecasting responsibility for this area by the World Meteorological Organization, didn't even bother to give it a name or forecast it properly. As Masters puts it:

Cyclone 03B was at least a strong tropical storm when it hit Pakistan, and was probably a Category 1 hurricane....Yet IMD never even gave the storm a name, and merely classified it as a a "deep depression," with winds less than tropical storm force (39 mph). At 00 GMT June 26, two hours before landfall, the position of Cyclone 03B given by IMD was probably in error by at least 60 miles. One hour later, at 01 GMT, with landfall just one hour away, the IMD shipping advisory said that landfall was still 12 hours away. The IMD website, with the warnings, was offline and not available for approximately twelve hours beginning with the landfall period. It's important not to judge IMD before all the facts are known, but I can't fathom any excuse that can account for what appears, at best, to be criminal incompetence.

And we all know what kind of history India and Pakistan have. Meanwhile, there's now another storm in the Indian Ocean, technically 04B, and the question is whether the Indian Meteorological Department will try to call it Yemyin--a name the Pakistanis already unofficially chose for 03B--instead of going on to the next storm on the list.....

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