Lightning Strikes in India Keep Getting Worse, Killed 147 People in 10 Days

The lightning strikes in India are quite common during the monsoon season. While the arrival of monsoon has brought relief to paddy farmers, east Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are bearing the brunt of lightning strikes. These thunderstrokes have killed 147 people in the north Indian state of Bihar within last 10 days, while warning of more extreme weather conditions has been issued.

Over 215 people – including farmers, rural labourers, and cattle graziers – have now died from strikes in the country’s poorest state since late March.

I was informed by weather experts, scientists and officials that rising temperatures due to climate change is the main cause behind the increasing lightning strikes.

Said Bihar’s Disaster Management Minister Lakshmeshwar Rai.

The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of more lightning in coming days. Officials have said that this year’s toll in Bihar has already exceeded the death toll recorded annually for the state over the past few years, even though the monsoon season has just begun. Last year, 170 people were killed in lightning strikes during the monsoon season.

Lightning Strikes in India Keep Getting Worse, Killed 147 People in 10 Days

Lightning over the city of Jaipur in April | Image: NurPhoto/AFP

According to Bihar agro-meteorological official, Abdus Sattar, the lightning and thunder were caused by high instability in the atmosphere, fuelled by temperature spikes and extreme moisture. Reportedly, in Uttar Pradesh, over 200 people have been struck and killed by lightning since April.

According to the data from the National Disaster Management Authority, at least 253 more people have lost their lives to lightning strikes and 49 have been injured in the past one and half months with 90 percent of the deaths recorded in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.

India Meteorological Department believes that a combination of meteorological and behavioural factors is leading to a very high number of deaths in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh this year. Every year at least 2000 to 3000 people are killed in India owning to lightning strikes ad torrential rains in India.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, over 2,300 people were killed by lightning in India in 2018.

Unusually, this year there is a lot of convective or thunder cloud formation in the region along with extremely heavy and widespread rains. Bihar has received 66 percent rains from June 1 to July 2 with 77 percent excess rains in the week of June 24 to July 1. East Uttar Pradesh received 72 percent excess rains in the same time period with 79 percent excess only from June 24 to July 1.

The working group of IMD can forecast forthcoming thunderstorms two to three days in advance but cannot determine the exact location of lightning strikes.

Thunderstorms occur in various parts of the country. Casualties are not high in the pre-monsoon months of April and May, which is a peak season for thunderstorms and lightning. However, as the monsoon season arrives, lightning severity is more over Bihar and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh due to the presence of humid air covered with relatively arid air in the mid and upper levels, supporting more tall clouds.

According to a paper titled The major lightning regions and associated casualties over India, published in Springer Nature in February, the maximum casualties are reported in Madhya Pradesh (313 deaths), Maharashtra (281 deaths) and Orissa (255 deaths) on an average every year.

According to scientists, the continuously changing climatic conditions are the major contributing factor to current lightning strikes.

Via: Science Alert

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