Cyclone Biparjoy, which has been weakening in intensity as expected after its landfall in Gujarat last night, has been downgraded from “very severe” to “severe”, and is now headed towards Rajasthan, where it will arrive by this evening and settle as a “deep depression” causing downpours.
The phrase “trail of destruction” has come up in every report about the cyclone’s pre-landfall and landfall impact. Biparjoy (‘be-pur-joy’) hit Gujarat at an estimated 125kmph, uprooting more than 500 trees in its path, destroying so many electric poles that some 940 villages in Gujarat were left without power. The initial report of two human deaths was later increased to 22, and the number of animals that died was countless.
The India Meteorological Department said that Biparjoy would become a less fierce “cyclonic storm” by noon, passing over Kutch and Saurashtra in Gujarat, on its way to Rajasthan.
Aside from moving 90,000 people to pre-landfall evacuation camps with the help of paramilitary forces and civil defence and cancelling dozens of trains, the Gujarat government had stationed rescue teams in the state’s famed lion sanctuary in Gir forest.
The endangered Asiatic lions of Gir, a prime attraction of Gujarat, reportedly got a dedicated cyclone-ready apparatus of 184 teams under nine divisions and 58 control rooms. No damage was reported from Gir after the landfall of Biparjoy.
Landfall is the phenomenon when the eye of the cyclone, the central part of the giant vortex, moves over the land. But before that moment, the periphery of the cyclonic storm can cause some scary scenes, too. The eye of Cyclone Biparjoy, as it began its landfall, was an estimated 50km in diameter.
Even in the days before the June 15 landfall, as it came swirling above the Arabian Sea, the cyclone has been causing high waves in coastal Gujarat and in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra.
A video from Jamnagar in Gujarat, posted on June 12, when the status of Cyclone Biparjoy was “extremely severe” or “very severe”, showed tin roofs of buildings flying in the cyclonic winds like confetti and hitting a stationary truck. Now, the worst is over, and Gujarat has a long road of rebuilding ahead.