The unprecedented rainfall in Maharashtra has made it the wettest state in the country with 32 per cent excess rainfall, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. However, the state has recorded a heavily skewed distribution of rain this monsoon. While floods wreaked havoc across five districts of Maharashtra killing over 50 people in the last 10 days, eight districts of the state have recorded heavy deficiency in rainfall.
The IMD data has revealed highest rain deficiency at 42 per cent in Solapur, located in the south-west region of the state, as of August 18. Solapur district borders Sangli, where 53 per cent excess rainfall was recorded. Sangli has also recorded one of the highest rain-related casualties in the state. Following Solapur is Beed with 41 per cent rain deficiency, Latur 29 per cent, Parbhani and Yavatmal 27 per cent each, Washim 25 per cent, Jalna 23 per cent and Osmanabad 21 per cent as of August 18.
While the eight districts recorded huge deficiency in rain, eight others recorded excess rainfall. For instance, Pune recorded 135 per cent excess rainfall, Nashik 86 per cent, Nandurbar 76 per cent, Satara and Kolhapur 74 per cent each, Dhule 69 per cent, Palghar 63 per cent and Thane 62 per cent. According to the IMD data, nine more districts, including Mumbai, recorded excess rainfall while the remaining 11 districts recorded normal rainfall.
“We cannot call the skewed rain distribution in the state an anomaly. If one looks at rainfall data of the past 100 years, we will see that this kind of rain distribution in the state can be seen every third or fourth year. This year the state recorded surplus rainfall, especially Konkan, because of the presence of strong westerlies,” said K S Hoslalikar, deputy director general of meteorology, IMD Mumbai.
Experts said large variability in spatial distribution of monsoon happens every few years but what’s worrying is that districts which were heavily deficient as of last week and were normally considered dry regions ended up recording heavy rainfall in just a few days, with either normal or excess rainfall. Experts called for the variation in rainfall to be further studied for better flood and disaster mitigation methods.
“The variation in rainfall recorded between the adjacent districts of Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada is significant. The variation at sub-divisional level this year between Madhya Maharashtra and Marathwada is quite striking. The difference has never been this high at least in the last 10 years. For example, Kolhapur, Sangli and Satara districts fall in dry and rain shadow regions. However, this monsoon, intense rainfall in just a few days triggered flooding in these areas,” said Akshay Deoras, independent meteorologist and PhD researcher at the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK.
Data collected by IMD shows that Mahabaleshwar, Dahanu and Palghar received nearly 400 mm rain on certain days while Sangli, Satara and Kolhapur, which are otherwise dry regions, received around 200 mm rain in a single day on some days in August.