Context: Recently, cloudbursts have been reported from several places in J&K, Union Territory of Ladakh, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
- A 2017 study of cloudbursts in the Indian Himalayas noted that most of the events occurred in the months of July and August.
- Cloudbursts are short-duration, intense rainfall events over a small area.
- According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), it is a weather phenomenon with unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm/h over a geographical region of approximately 20-30 square km.
- During the cloudburst, the relative humidity and cloud cover was at the maximum level with low temperature and slow winds.
Impact of Cloudburst:
- Cloudbursts are especially common in mountainous areas.
- This is probably because the warm air currents of a thunderstorm tend to follow the upward slope of a mountain.
- The effects of heavy rain are especially striking on mountain slopes because the falling water is concentrated in valleys and gullies.
- Mountain cloudbursts cause sudden and destructive floods.
The meteorological factors behind the cloudburst:
- Atmospheric pressure,
- Atmospheric temperature,
- Cloud water content,
- Cloud fraction,
- Cloud particle radius,
- Cloud mixing ratio,
- Total cloud cover,
- Wind speed,
- Wind direction, and
- Relative humidity during the cloudburst, before as well as after the cloudburst.
- Several studies have shown that climate change will increase the frequency and intensity of cloudbursts in many cities across the globe.
- In May, the World Meteorological Organization noted that there is about a 40% chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level in at least one of the next five years.
- It added that there is a 90% likelihood of at least one year between 2021 and 2025 becoming the warmest on record and dislodge 2016 from the top rank.
- As temperatures increase the atmosphere can hold more and more moisture and this moisture comes down as a short very intense rainfall for a short duration probably half an hour or one hour resulting in flash floods in the mountainous areas and urban floods in the cities.
- Also, there is evidence suggesting that globally short duration rainfall extremes are going to become more intense and frequent.
- With warming climate or climate change, we will surely witness these cloudburst events in increased frequency in the future.
Predictability of Cloudburst:
- Various climatologists cited that it's an extremely challenging task and is very difficult to model cloudburst.
- For hourly rainfall and cloudbursts, it is very difficult to simulate the intensity and location.
- The government has announced an ex gratia of ₹5 lakh each for the next of kin of those who lost their lives, and ₹50,000 and ₹12,700 under the State Disaster Relief Fund (to the grievously injured).