After floods, the new threat that hangs over the Kashmir valley are the cloudbursts. With more than eight cloudbursts so far in three weeks leaving more than ten people dead and with the meteorological department saying that more cloudbursts are possible throughout September.
“While we were stranded for two days on the Srinagar – Leh road, the only thing we were worried about were the cloudbursts as there is not much one can do to save oneself from them,” Shuaib Ahmad Mandoo, who was stranded on the Srinagar – Leh road after landslides blocked the highway, said.
Among the most vulnerable places for cloudbursts, the Amarnath yatra track is one and with tens of thousands of tourists walking up the tracks each day, danger hangs close by.
“I will never forget the night, huge debris came down, after cloudburst triggered flash floods. We were scared as the weather turned gloomy,” Pankaj Kumar, a pilgrim who was rescued after cloud bursts struck the Baltal Base camp, said.
Tourists are also avoiding hilly destinations especially after Amarnath yatra track in the South Kashmir’s hilly areas witnessed two cloud bursts killing four people and injuring 11 others. Cloudburst triggered flash floods and landslides near the Baltal base camp of the Amarnath yatra in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district last week.
Experts believe it is the interaction of moist warm monsoon winds and western disturbances that result in creation of low pressure system causing heavy rains.
“Global and local climate change is responsible for the changing weather trends and frequent cloud bursts are also a resultant factor,” said Sonam Lotus, Director of Indian Metrological Department, J&K.
“Cloudbursts are usually associated with thunderstorms and most of the cloud bursts occur in hilly areas, this year the monsoon has been active in north India. Due to low pressure system monsoon winds has been active,” Lotus said.
Officials of the meteorological department say that it is very difficult to predict a cloudburst. Cloudbursts have so far occurred in Ganderbal, Kupwara, Budgam and Baltal areas across the Kashmir valley.
“Cloudburst happened always. But it is now when people are dying due to cloud bursts that we are questioning it. Cloudbursts happen mostly in the hilly areas and since people have started living in the hilly areas, we have seen more causalities.” Head of the department Earth Sciences University of Kashmir, Dr Shakeel Ahmad Romshoo, said.
After cloudbursts created havoc in Leh in 2010, Kashmir valley witnessed severe damage to life and property due to flash floods triggered by cloudbursts in the last one month.