The year 2019 was one of extremes — heat, cold, rain and cyclones — for India, killing a total of 1,562 people. The previous year, total deaths caused due to similar weather vagaries was 1,428.
This was stated in a weather summary titled the ‘Statement on Climate of India during 2019’ released by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) Monday. Rain and flood alone claimed 849 lives, with Bihar being the worst affected state due to unprecedented weather events experienced during all the seasons last year.
Interestingly, the rainfall amounts during both the Southwest Monsoon (June to September) and Northeast Monsoon (October to December) remained 109 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA). That is, the country recorded excess rainfall during the entire year, making it an extremely wet year in recent times.
The death toll, as per IMD records, in 2017 was 1,592 and in 2016 it was 1,538.
The mean temperature was 0.36 degrees above normal, making 2019 the seventh hottest year ever recorded, the report said. The decade 2011-19 was the warmest on record for the country, when the annual mean temperature was 0.36 degree above normal. The report highlighted that India had warmed by 1 degree Celsius since 1901. Whereas the rise in minimum temperature was 0.22 degrees in the century.
While extremely heavy rain and hot days are becoming more frequent in recent years, 2019 was exceptional also for the number of cyclones on India’s east and west coasts, the IMD stated.
Report stresses rise in cyclonic storms
The average temperature during 2019 rose by 0.36 degrees celsius, making this the seventh warmest year on record. The year 2016 was by far the warmest year recorded. Last year was dominated by tropical cyclones as the country witnessed eight cyclones formed in the Indian Ocean. After 1902, this was the first time that the Arabian Sea reported five intense and frequent cyclonic storms, surpassing the average annual number of cyclones formed in the Bay of Bengal in a year. The annual rainfall over the country stood at 109 per cent of the Long Period Average (LPA), with both the monsoons recording excess rainfall.
Arabian Sea brewed more cyclonic storms than the Bay of Bengal in 2019. This was only the second time in 117 years that the Arabian Sea saw such intense and frequent cyclones.
In 2019, eight cyclonic storms formed over the north Indian Ocean, IMD officials said. Five — Cyclones Vayu, Hikka, Kyarr, Maha and Pavan — originated in the Arabia Sea, which is usually calmer, not seeing more than one cyclone a year. On the contrary, the Bay of Bengal last year reported fewer cyclones than normal. The cyclones formed there include Pabuk, Fani and Bulbul.
The causes of deaths due to extreme weather events last year were as follows: heavy rain and floods 849, heatwave 349, thunderstorm 210, lightning 75, snow avalanche 51 and cold wave 28.
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