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Did Monsoon Really End? Why India Saw Extreme Rains in September

Rains are to withdraw only from 10 October, according to current forecast – making it the most delayed since 1961.

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3 min read

Video Editor: Ashutosh Bhardwaj

India recorded the highest rainfall this monsoon since 1994, the weather department said classifying it 'above normal' as the season “officially” ended on Monday, 30 September. But the unusually high rainfall, especially at the tail-end of the monsoon, has left parts of Maharashtra, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh flooded – catching all forecasters and the civil administration off-guard.

September 2019 alone witnessed a staggering 52% ‘higher-than-normal’ rainfall. Adding to the records, this extreme rainfall has made this the wettest September in a hundred years.

When Will This Monsoon Mayhem End

While the season may have ended, the monsoon is still playing truant in certain areas of the country.

Several parts of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are still reeling from floods following incessant showers over the past few days, with the death toll in rain-related incidents mounting to at least 148 in the country. The highest number of deaths 111 were reported from Uttar Pradesh, while 28 people lost their lives in Bihar since last week.

Many parts of peninsular India like Hyderabad and Pune, coastal regions like Kolkata, Gujarat, Goa, and sub-Himalayan region Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura have been victims of heavy downpour.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the rains are likely to withdraw only from 10 October, as per current forecast.

Rains are to withdraw only from 10 October, according to current forecast – making it the most delayed since 1961.

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Why Are We Experiencing This Crazy Rainfall

India is experiencing more extreme events and a decrease in moderate rainfall, as the world warms – something that can be considered as a direct effect of climate change.

For example, Pune saw one of the worst flash floods in the city’s recent history. More than 16 centimetres (6.3 in) of rain was measured in Pune, Baramati and Pune district between the night of 25 September and the afternoon of 26 September which was the highest rainfall in last 10 years. Such incidents are likely to become more common.

“Parts of Bihar and the Uttar Pradesh-Uttarakhand belt already exhibits a rising trend in terms of the number of heavy rainfall events. Though we cannot pinpoint each event to climate change unless we do in-depth attribution study, it is likely that the rise in global and local temperatures have contributed to the observed anomalies in rainfall. Specifically, widespread heavy rains resulting in floods are on arise across the central and west coast, and parts of north/north-east India.”
Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, Co-Author, Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere

Various studies have concluded there has been a three-fold increase in widespread extreme rainfall over central India since 1950, as a result of warming in the northern Arabian Sea. Floods in North India have become 50 percent more common and 80 percent longer.

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This Could Be A One-Time Thing, Right?

Not at all. Scientists and researches point out that India will witness a trend of more unpredictable extreme rainfall, while moderate rainfall events will witness a decline.

Of the 36 meteorological subdivisions of the IMD, two – west Madhya Pradesh and Saurashtra and Kutch – recorded precipitation in "large excess".

After making an onset over Kerala on 8 June, nearly a week after its normal arrival date, monsoon was sluggish in June and ended with 33 percent deficiency. However, it picked up pace in July and ended with 33 percent more rainfall than normal. August too recorded 15 percent more rainfall than normal.

As India grapples with climate change, extreme and erratic rainfall may well be the "new normal".

(With inputs from PTI)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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