On September 11, 2022, around 6:30 p.m., a tornado struck Deh Kak and Sanghro, located in the outskirts of Mirpurkhas, Sindh. It caused extensive damage within a radius of about 1 km. The storm only lasted three to four minutes, but it uprooted countless trees and blew up solar panels on rooftops. Many people were injured.
“I have never seen anything like it before. It was like the end of the world. Suddenly a cold wind blowing at high speed surrounded us. Things started to fly away,” says Yaqoob, a villager.
Cyclones are not common in Pakistan. Over the past two decades, about four tornadoes have struck different parts of the country. In March 2001 a tornado hit Sargodha district, in 2022 a tornado hit Sialkot which killed around 56 people and injured over 600 people; in 2015, a tornado hit the outskirts of Peshawar, killing 44 people. They mainly occurred in March and April due to the interaction of cold and warm air over the months.
The tornado that hit Mirpurkhas in September could be the result of climate change and increased energy in the atmosphere. One could also imagine that global warming should lead to more frequent tornadoes due to the increased energy in the atmosphere that we create with greenhouse gases. According to National Geographic, “Is there a link between tornadoes and global warming? Although there is an increase in the number of tornadoes, many more are recorded than in 1950, the intensity is slower”.
The 9/11 tornado in the outskirts of Mirpurkhas took everyone by surprise. Local communities were not warned or prepared for the storm.
Much more study and research needs to be done to establish the fact that tornadoes are a direct result of global warming and climate change.
The 9/11 tornado in the outskirts of Mirpurkhas took everyone by surprise. Local communities were not warned or prepared for the storm. Since there is no accurate tracking or forecasting system for tornadoes, meteorologists can only identify conditions that are likely to cause a severe storm. Warnings may be issued when weather conditions lead to the development of a tornado. To minimize the impact of tornadoes, a mass awareness campaign must be launched to save precious lives. A huge percentage of the population does not know what a tornado is and how to react or act when it hits.
Given recent climate changes and the impacts of global warming on Pakistan, the frequency of tornadoes may increase. More studies and research must be conducted and a strategy must be devised to protect the population from tornadoes in the future. The National Climate Change Policy 2012 needs to reconsider its focus and ensure that climate change is mainstreamed into economic and socially vulnerable sectors. The policy must steer Pakistan towards climate compatible development.