Peshawar rain, winds caused by tornado, says Met office

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ISLAMABAD: The Met office has said that tornadoes do not occur in Pakistan and they cannot be predicted anywhere in the world.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Deputy Director of the Pakistan Meteorological Department Aleemul Hassan said that the mini-tornado that hit Peshawar on Sunday was the third forceful whirlwind in the recorded history of Pakistan.

“It was a very unusual and extreme weather event,” he said.

The mini-tornado was accompanied by strong winds with a speed of 110km per hour and 60mm rainfall.

The system produced rainfall coupled with strong winds on Sunday night and on Monday in many areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, most of northern Punjab and parts of Kashmir.

There are limited meteorological observatories and weather radar facilities in the country. The PMD’s only radar system in KP is installed at Dera Ismail Khan. The radar system installed in Islamabad covers meteorological developments in northern Punjab and almost all of northern KP because it has a range of around 350km.

Mr Hassan said the country’s first tornado was recorded in March 2001 when it struck village Chak Misran in tehsil Bhalwal of Sargodha district with a wind speed of 193km per hour. It claimed 20 lives and left 40 people injured.

The second tornado battered an area near Head Marala in district Sialkot in March 2011 with a speed of 100km per hour. It killed 10 people and injured 32.

“Sunday’s tornado shows that the impact of climate change is beginning to be more visible in Pakistan,” the deputy director said.

The main reason for occurrence of tornadoes was thermal contrast in the months of March or April. “This is a transition period when days are getting hot and nights are still cold because of cold air coming from the North and the West,” he explained.

While the Met office is yet to finalise the analytical report of the Peshawar tornado, the PMD official said warm moist winds from the south and cool heavy air coming from the west and north collided over central KP, resulting in formation of the powerful whirlwind.

The PMD had predicted ‘rain with dust-thunderstorm’ on Friday and Saturday but it did not expect strong winds to convert into a mini-tornado.

“Prediction about tornadoes or twisters is not possible in the world despite advancement of radar and satellite technologies,” the deputy director said.

More rains in Peshawar

Meanwhile, the Met office said that the weather was unstable in Pakistan and two more weather systems were expected to approach upper parts of the country in the next 10 days.

This would result in scattered rain with dust-thunderstorm in upper Peshawar, Malakand, Mardan and Hazara divisions, north Punjab, Islamabad, Rawalpindi and Sargodha divisions and Kashmir during middle of the current week and in the first week of May.

“But it is less likely that there will be another event of this magnitude because the system seems to have lost its energy,” Mr Hassan said.

During the last 24 hours, parts of Peshawar received 70mm rainfall, Risalpur 45mm, Islamabad 42mm, Cherat 33mm, Garhi Dupatta 30mm, Murree 29mm, Rawalpindi 28mm, Kakul 27mm, Balakot and Muzaffarabad 25mm each, Kotli 24mm and Rawalakot and Kalam 19mm each.

Temperature was recorded at 46 degrees Centigrade in Jacobabad, Dadu, Sukkur, Larkana, Benazirabad, Rohri and Padidan, 45 degrees in Moenjodaro and 44 degrees in Lasbela and Sibi.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2015

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