North India has experienced a deluge resulting from a deadly combination of two weather systems – the monsoon winds and a western disturbance in the past two days. Experts warn that such interactions, similar to the ones that caused the devastating Uttarakhand flooding in 2013, are becoming increasingly common and are likely to lead to extreme rainfall and flooding in a warming world.
Heavy downpours in the northern region, the nationwide monsoon deficit has been completely wiped out, and the cumulative rainfall for the season has recorded a surplus of 2% for the first time since June 1. Over the past two days, two weather systems have been active over North India, leading to intense precipitation and consequent flooding.
According to Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the chief of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), there was a trough extending from Rajasthan to the north Arabian Sea associated with a western disturbance.
Simultaneously, due to robust monsoon conditions, winds from the Bay of Bengal were also reaching the north. These two systems converged around Jammu & Kashmir on Saturday and around Himachal Pradesh on Sunday. As a result, these regions received heavy showers, fueled by moisture from both the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
The occurrence of such weather system interactions is not uncommon and has been linked to extreme weather events, particularly in the hilly regions of northwest India. The state of Himachal Pradesh, for instance, recently experienced heavy downpours that have left a trail of devastation in the hill state.
The catastrophic floods and landslides in Uttarakhand in mid-June 2013 were a result of a similar weather phenomenon. A western disturbance drew moisture northward from a low-pressure system originating in the Bay of Bengal.
This not only accelerated the arrival of the monsoon, covering the entire country in record time but also triggered calamitous rainfall in Uttarakhand, including the catastrophic cloudburst at Kedarnath. Reports indicate that the deluge caused the loss of over 5,000 lives and displaced more than 500,000 people.
Mohapatra explains that the mountains receive copious amounts of rain during these two-system confluences because the winds hit the hills and ascend, leading to heavy precipitation. Kieran M R Hunt, the lead author of a study on such weather system interactions in India from the University of Reading in the UK, asserts that the intensity of rainfall resulting from these confluences could escalate in a warming world.
While the frequency of such interactions may not show a clear trend, it is highly likely that when they do occur, they will be increasingly associated with extreme rainfall and flooding, according to Hunt.
In conclusion, the recent deluge in North India serves as a stark reminder of the interconnectedness of weather systems and their potential for causing devastating consequences.
As global warming continues, the risks of extreme rainfall and flooding associated with the interaction of different weather systems are expected to rise. Understanding and predicting these phenomena will be crucial in mitigating their impacts and protecting vulnerable regions.