One extreme weather event happened almost every month in India between 2018 and 2019. That’s according to a report released by the Centre for Environment and Science (CSE) in that country.
The connection and intensity of these extreme weather events in the second-most populous country has taken climate scientists and meteorologists by absolute surprise compelling them to describe it as a climate emergency.
African countries have been warned to take clue from these incidents and plan effectively to avoid similar cases.
Programme Director at CSE, Souparno Banerjee, says, “Nobody is far from such events adding that extreme weather is not limited to India.”
Mr. Banerjee cites similar event in Djibouti where the country received a two-year worth of rainfall in a day in 2019.
The world is said to have witnessed 286 and 228 extreme weather events in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Of these, India recorded 23 in 2018 and nine in 2019.
Forty-eight per cent of the deaths which occurred in Asia due to extreme weather events happened in India.
There were however more deaths in 2019 in India though the country recorded fewer extremes as figures show – 2,038 people died in 2019 compared to 1,396 in 2018.
Extreme weather events include conditions like drought, wildfire, flood, landslides, extreme temperatures, fog and storm.
Centre for Science and Environment reports says that, January saw the end of the north-east monsoon season with a 44 per cent deficit rain -- the third-highest deficit in the past 10 years.
“North India had one of the coldest and driest winters ever, as the extreme conditions spilled into February. In March, an unseasonal heatwave roasted Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.
In April, thunderstorms with cloud-to-ground lightning strikes began affecting states in east, central and north-east India. The month ended with the formation of a rare pre-monsoon cyclone (Fani).” Says Mr. Banerjee
May and June were marked by a spate of heatwaves. By the first week of June, the country had undergone 73 spells of heatwave conditions, 11 of them extreme; with the maximum deaths in Bihar (over 200).
According to Mr. Banerjee, the conditions were so harsh that district magistrates of five districts invoked section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code to restrict public activities during daytime.
Parts of the report also say that, there was delay in the onset of south-west monsoon, and July started with a weak rainfall. But once it started raining, it poured. Twelve states received over 60 per cent surplus rains in the second week of July. The resultant floods in Bihar and Assam affected over 10 million people and claimed 168 lives.
The rains came in short bursts of heavy downpours followed by drier periods, a pattern that continued till September. In all, there were 1,250 events of extreme rainfall during the year, or more than three per day.
In October and November, cyclones Hikaa, Kyarr and Maha in the Arabian Sea and cyclone Bulbul in the Bay of Bengal formed and intensified in quick succession. With cyclone Pawan in December -- the total number of cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean region reached eight. This is the highest number of cyclones in a single year since 1976.