Kerala Flash Floods: Localised Phenomenon or Another Climate Change Warning?

Though the rain has reduced, a fresh spell is expected from 20 October.
Himmat Shaligram
Podcast
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The Big Story Podcast on Kerala Rains and Flash Floods. Image used for representation only.

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(Photo: Kamran Akhter/ The Quint)

<div class="paragraphs"><p>The Big Story Podcast on Kerala Rains and Flash Floods. Image used for representation only.</p></div>
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Heavy rains and flash floods have lashed southern and central parts of Kerala since 14 October, resulting in at least 25 deaths and many more feared missing.

This untimely havoc on the state has devastated districts across the state, with landslides and flash floods sweeping away houses and buildings. In one instance, rescue teams in Kerala’s Idukki district, while rummaging through debris, found the bodies of a mother and her son hugging each other. In another instance, three generations in a family of six were washed away in Kottayam district.

Though the rain has reduced and a fresh spell is expected from Wednesday, 20 October, what has puzzled many experts is why such an extreme weather event took place in October, a time where monsoons in southwestern India have historically retreated.

And no prizes for guessing why, it is all pointing to climate change.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has stated that a low-pressure system in the Arabian Sea is the reason but the recurrent nature of this kind of extreme rain event in Kerala has led to many experts pointing towards climate change as the reason.

So, are more extreme weather events expected in Kerala’s future? What systems need to be in place to detect this kind of event, and what lessons have the Kerala government learned from previous extreme weather events?

To discuss all this, we spoke with Anjal Prakash, Research Director and Associate Professor at Bharti Institute of Public Policy at Indian School of Business and an IPCC author, and KA Shaji, a senior Kerala-based environment journalist.

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