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Mumbai rains show rapid rise in extreme weather events


NEW DELHI:  Massive flooding in Mumbai again shows that the frequency of localised heavy rain has increased during 1951–2017, with 285 reported flooding events in India during the period. About 85 crore people were affected, while 1.9 crore left homeless and about 71,000 others lost lives in the period. 

Widespread extreme rain events across central India have tripled since 1950 and the rise in extreme rainfall events is taking place over a region where the total monsoon rainfall is decreasing.

For instance, in Mumbai, it received 200mm of rainfall in a 4 hour window between 2.30 to 5.30 pm on August 5.  

“Climate researchers categorize heavy rainfall above 10mm/hr and violent rainfall > 50mm/hr. Mumbai drains are designed for 25mm rains/hr. The city has over 2500 kms of drains built over 100 years ago,” according to Urban Sciences. 

Experts warn that the fact that this intensification is against the background of a declining monsoon rainfall makes it catastrophic, as it puts several millions of lives, property and agriculture at risk.

These severe weather events result in large scale floods and catastrophic loss for life and property across central and northern India – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam and parts of Western Ghats – Goa, north Karnataka and south Kerala.

“While it is too early for an in-depth analysis of the ongoing floods, what we can say is that there is an increasing trend in heavy rainfall events on the west coast of India. In our analysis of rainfall data over the last 70 years, we find a three-fold rise in extreme rains along the west coast and central India,” said Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, Scientist, Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Lead Author, IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere.