Flood, but how
Fits of extreme rainfall catch India unawares

Monsoon 2019 started in a humdrum way. For sometime, it seemed many parts of India won't recieve as much rainfall as they normally do. But a sudden change of gear — pouring cats and dogs in a short span — led to deluges and flash floods, even cloud bursts.
These district-specific charts show how:

Akshit Sangomla, Kiran Pandey, Giriraj Amarnath and Lalit Maurya


Arunachal Pradesh

Many districts in Arunachal Pradesh were under severe deficit until the first week of July, after which the extreme rainfall events began and in-duced the floods, mainly in Tawang and West Kameng districts of the state.


In Assam, four districts — Dhuburi, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Barpeta — suffered many more extreme rainfall events than others. The events were spread in between the last days of June and the last days of July when the floods in the state were most severe. Flood conditions had still not relented till August 6 when eight districts were under water.


In Bihar, as many as 27 of 38 districts recorded rainfall deficit of more than 40 per cent until July 7. Over the next week, seven of those districts faced flash floods, which killed more than a 100 and affected 7.2 million.


Ongoing floods in Chhattisgarh’s southern districts such as Sukma were induced by extreme rainfall events in the first two weeks of August. Some districts saw floods in mid July also due to very heavy rainfall. The state re-ceived 76 percent above-normal rainfall July 25-31, followed by a relatively dry week (7 per cent excess).


The week through 7 also saw excessive rainfall in Goa, which led to several areas being submerged under water. There was a deficit of 6 per cent between July 25 and 31, which in the next week changed to an excess of 110 per cent.


Extreme rains in many districts in Gujarat, especially Vadodara, caused floods in the first week of August. In the week through August 7, the state received 112 per cent more rainfall than normal. Many districts which re-ceived regular rainfall around the average over the monsoon period re-mained relatively dry.


Karnataka had a monsoon rainfall deficit of 13 per cent on July 31. After a week’s rainfall this changed to an excess of 10 per cent — a swing of 23 percentage points. Floods broke out in 12 districts of the state, mostly in the north and central parts, killing 58 people. On August 8, some of the districts received up to 32 times their normal rainfall.


Kerala reeled under a seasonal rainfall deficit of 27 per cent until August 7. The rainfall was 22 per cent above normal for the week through August 7. On August 8 the state received 368 per cent more rainfall than normal and floods ensued immediately. By August 13, incessant rainfall cut the sea-sonal deficit to 3 per cent — a massive 24 percentage point fall. Nealry 100 died while 190,000 are living in relief camps.

Madhya Pradesh

Many districts of Madhya Pradesh suffered from floods in the first two weeks of July, mainly induced by extreme rainfall events.


The floods in Maharashtra were a result of heavy rainfall over two weeks. Between July 25 and 31, the state received 139 per cent more rainfall than normal and between August 1 and 7 it received 161 per cent more rainfall than normal. This resulted in floods in the western districts of Kolhapur, Sangli, Satara, Pune and Solapur, killing 50 and displacing 0.65 million.


Floods hit Meghalaya in mid-July, especially in the Khasi and Garo hills where there was extreme rainfall.



Rajasthan suffered from flood or flood-like situation in several districts at the end of July, due to incessant rainfall over a few days. The state as a whole received 152 per cent more rainfall than normal in the last week of July.


Hilly Uttarakhand received most of its extreme rainfall events in a scat-tered way over the months of July and August. These induced localised flash floods and landslides in districts such as Nainital, Bageshwar and Tehri Garhwal.

Data source:

✸   International Water Management Institute (IWMI)
✸   India Meteorological Department (IMD)