The southwest monsoon till August has given Kerala its heaviest rainfall since 2013, a top official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Friday.
According to IMD data, the state has received 1840.52 mm of cumulative rainfall between June 1 and August 10 against a normal course of 1536.44 mm. This indicates a departure of 19.79%, well within the +/- 19% range of what’s considered to be a ‘normal’ monsoon.
“It is the strongest monsoon since 2013 (when the state had received 2561.2 mm of rainfall),” IMD Thiruvananthapuram director K Santhosh said, adding that the active phase of the monsoon has triggered the torrential rainfall in eastern parts of districts like Palakkad, Idukki and Wayanad since Wednesday night.
Last year, the state had received 1855.9 mm of rainfall between June 1 and September 30.
As per data, districts like Ernakulam, Idukki, Kottayam, Malappuram and Palakkad have registered excess cumulative rainfall between June 1 and August 10. Idukki has received the highest cumulative rainfall of 2522.52 mm followed by Ernakulam which received 2025.2 mm and Palakkad with 1719.21 mm. Only Kasaragode, in northern Kerala which forms the border with Karnataka, has received deficient rainfall this season so far.
“There has been a convergence of strong westerlies along the coast. Their collision with the ghats results in rainfall. As you know, eastern Kerala is full of ghats,” Dr K Sathi Devi, an IMD scientist in New Delhi, said.
Devi also said the rainfall in the state is predicted to remain the same over the next 24 hours, then abate and then regain strength after a few days. ‘Heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places’ is predicted on Saturday in the districts of Alappuzha, Ernakulam, Idukki, Palakkad, Malappuram, Kozhikode, Kannur and Wayanad.
Over the past 48 hours, Kerala has been subjected to torrential rainfall resulting in flash floods and landslides, particularly in the hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad. Till Friday evening, a total of 28 people have lost their lives in rain-related incidents, a bulk of the casualties being reported from Idukki in central Kerala.
Terming the situation particularly grave and unprecedented, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has cancelled all his official engagements till Sunday to assume a central role in relief and rescue efforts. Both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh have spoken to the chief minister, assuring the state government of all help from the Centre.
Several units of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been deployed across the rain-affected districts along with four columns of the Army to rescue those who have been trapped in homes flooded by river water. Eight districts have been put on red alert. The shutters of a total of 24 dams, including the Cheruthoni dam on Idukki reservoir, have been opened this monsoon to drain out excess water from the catchment areas.
With rivers and streams flowing in spate, people, particularly youngsters, have been asked to exercise caution. Travellers have also been asked to limit movement at night in hilly and high-range areas, particularly between 7 pm and 7 am. Those residing in areas prone to landslips must move to relief camps set up at the district headquarters, the government said.
The chief minister has also asked people from across the state and beyond to donate generously to the CM’s relief fund to help in the distribution of food and essential supplies. A total of Rs 1.75 crore was collected in the CM relief fund between July 26-August 9.