Call Us Now

+91 9606900005 / 04

For Enquiry

legacyiasacademy@gmail.com

Cloudbursts In Himachal Pradesh

Context:

Over 20 people have been killed in destruction caused by cloudbursts and flash floods in different parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand over the last three days.

Relevance:

GS-I: Geography (Physical Geography, Climatology, Important Geophysical phenomena), GS-III: Environment and Ecology (Climate Change and its effects), GS-III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is a Cloudburst?
  2. Why do cloudbursts happen only in the mountains and hilly areas?
  3. Why does cloudburst cause so many deaths?

What is a Cloudburst?

  • Cloudbursts are sudden and extreme rainfall events over a limited area in a short span of time. There is no universal definition of a cloudburst.
  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) defines a cloudburst as any event where 100 millimetres of rainfall have fallen in a span of an hour over a region that is 20-30 square kilometres in area. By this definition, 5 cm of rainfall in half an hour would also be classified as a cloudburst.

How do Cloudbursts occur?

  • A cloudburst occurs when moisture-carrying air moves up a hilly terrain, forming a vertical column of clouds known as ‘cumulonimbus’ clouds.
  • Such clouds usually cause rain, thunder and lightning. This upward motion of the clouds is known as an ‘orographic lift’.
  • These unstable clouds cause an intense rainstorm over a small area after becoming heavy enough and locked in the ridges and valleys between the hills.
  • The energy necessary for the cloudburst comes from the upward motion of air. Cloudbursts mostly occur at elevations between 1,000-2,500 metres above sea level.
  • The moisture is usually provided by a low-pressure system (usually associated with cyclonic storms in the ocean) over the Gangetic plains associated with low level winds flowing in from the east.
  • Sometimes winds flowing in from the north west also aid the occurrence of cloudbursts. The many factors that have to come together to make a cloudburst event happen make them highly unlikely.

Why do cloudbursts happen only in the mountains and hilly areas?

  • Cloudbursts do happen in plains as well, but there is a greater probability of them occurring in mountainous zones; it has to do with the terrain.
  • Cloudbursts happen when saturated clouds are unable to produce rain because of the upward movement of very warm current of air.
  • Raindrops, instead of dropping down, are carried upwards by the air current.
  • New drops are formed and existing raindrops gain in size. After a point, the raindrops become too heavy for the cloud to hold on to, and they drop down together in a quick flash.
  • Hilly terrains aid in heated air currents rising vertically upwards, thereby, increasing the probability of a cloudburst situation.
  • In addition, as pointed out earlier, cloudbursts get counted only when they result in largescale destruction of life and property, which happens mainly in mountainous regions.

Why does cloudburst cause so many deaths?

  • The rainfall itself does not result in the death of people, though sometimes, the raindrops are big enough to hurt people in a sustained downpour.
  • It is the consequences of such heavy rain, especially in the hilly terrain, that causes death and destruction.
  • Landslides, flash floods, houses and establishments getting swept away and cave-ins lead to the deaths.

Is the frequency of cloudbursts increasing?

  • There is a paucity of past data on cloudbursts; in addition, since only some of them get counted – only those that result in death and destruction – there is a problem of accuracy as well.
  • But what is very clear is that events of extreme precipitation have been on the rise in the last few decades due to global warming; it is expected, keeping in mind that trend, that cloudburst events might be on the increase as well.
  • Extreme weather events are indeed increasing in the Himalayan region.

-Source: Indian Express


Download PDF
September 2022
MTWTFSS
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930 
Categories