Climate Change

WMO report flags heatwave, cyclone conditions in India

India was severely affected by delayed monsoons, floods, according to the report

 
By DTE Staff
Last Updated: Thursday 12 March 2020
Cyclone Fani caused massive destruction. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Record-high temperatures, cyclones in the Indian Ocean, erratic rainfall patterns leading floods in several parts of India — these are among the concerns highlighted by the United Nation's World Meteorological Organization (WMO) report released on March 10, 2020.

According to the report titled Statement of the State of the Global Climate in 2019, record-high temperatures were reported in India, Australia, Japan and Europe in 2019, adversely affecting public health.

India was among the most severely affected by heatwaves, the report noted. Between May and June 2019, very high temperatures were observed. The Palam recorded 48 degrees Celsius on June 10, 2019.

Northern Indian ocean faced extreme cyclonic conditions, with Cyclone Fani affecting the Indian coastal state of Odisha. On May 3, its landfall in east Odisha sustained wind pressure of 100 kilonewton (kN). It had earlier peaked at 135 kN in the Bay of Bengal.

The cyclone claimed 64 lives and damaged public property. But extensive evacuation exercises in affected areas vastly reduced human impact.

The South Indian Ocean basin, too, experienced an active season in 2019. It was struck by over 18 cyclones, of which 13 intensified to hurricanes — the highest number on record so far.

Widespread thunderstorms and associated dust storms also affected northern and western India in mid-April, 2019.

At least 50 deaths were reported in India on 16 and 17 April. Over 60 deaths were reported from severe thunderstorms in northern India in the first half of June 2019.

Precipitation

The positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is linked with late withdrawal of the southwest Indian monsoon. This led to delayed monsoons in several parts of India causing large precipitation deficit in June 2019.

As a result, all Indian regions except the North East witnessed precipitation in the following months.

The number of heavy precipitation days (days with more than 20 mm precipitation) was above the long-term means in India.

Heavy rainfall

Parts of west and north India experienced regular floods during the Indian summer monsoon.

Overall, average rainfall for the season (between June and September) was 10 per cent — above the 1961–2010 average. This was the first above-average year in terms of rainfall since 2013 and the wettest since 1994 — despite below-average June rainfall.

The monsoon withdrawal was exceptionally late. The summer monsoon withdrew on 9 October, 2019.

Over 2,200 casualties were reported in several flooding episodes in India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Myanmar during this season.

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