4 dead in Uttarakhand; heavy rain claims 41 lives across country
New Delhi: Four people were killed in Uttarakhand on Monday as heavy rain lashed several parts of the country, triggered by western disturbances and low pressure areas in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, taking the rain-related death toll to 41 in the past 48 hours across India.
Of the 41 deaths, 35 were reported from Kerala, four from Uttarakhand and one each from Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.
Kerala received extreme rainfall on Friday and Saturday due to a low pressure area in the Arabian Sea. Six districts in central and southern Kerala received over 204mm rain in 48 hours. Peerumedu in Idukki district received the maximum 297mm rainfall. Other parts of the country, such as Chandigarh, Kolkata and Shimla, received the highest single-day rain in October in the past one decade.
In Uttarakhand, several roads were blocked as heavy rains threw life out of gear on Monday. While three people died in Lansdowne in Pauri Garhwal district after a shanty collapsed under heavy muck brought in by the rains on Monday morning, a 53-year-old woman died in a similar incident in Champawat district.
In the hilly Pithoragarh district, at least 10 roads, including three major arteries — Tanakpur to Pithoragarh, Jauljibi to Munsiyari and Tawaghat- to Darma — were blocked due to landslides, officials said.
The state government suspended the char dham yatra and advised pilgrims who arrived in Haridwar and Rishikesh by Sunday not to proceed further till the weather improves.
Higher reaches in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh on Monday received snowfall, bringing down day temperatures by at least 5 degrees Celsius. Many rivers, including Sutlej in Himachal Pradesh and Ram Ganga in Uttarakhand, were flowing 3-5 feet above the danger mark, officials said.
Uttarkhand received 36.7mm rainfall in the past 24 hrs, whereas Himachal Pradesh received 37.2 mm, almost 40% more than the decadal average of daily rainfall in October in the western Himalayas.
The sudden rainfall was owing to confluence of two weather systems (westerlies and easterlies) from the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, meteorologist Mohammad Hussain Mir said. “These systems together focused over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and other areas to bring the precipitation,” he said. “This does not happen routinely, but occasionally every 2-3 years.”
The unseasonal rainfall has impacted the government’s purchase of farm produce, especially paddy, in western Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh. However, agriculture department officials in Punjab said there was less impact on paddy procurement in the state as rainfall there was negligible.
The rain brought good news to farmers preparing to plant the winter crop, which would be completed by mid-November in the plains of northern India.
In eastern India, heavy rainfall, triggered by a low pressure area over West Bengal and northern Odisha, battered districts in southern Bengal, including Kolkata, and coastal parts of Odisha since Sunday night. Some of the India Meteorological Department stations in the coastal districts, such as South 24 Parganas and East Midnapore, received more than 100mm rain in the past 24 hours.
The Met department in Jharkhand has issued a yellow alert, a warniong for severe weather, as the state received 89mm rainfall in the past 24 hours. “The total rainfall during post-monsoon in Jharkhand is not very unusual. On many occasions in the past, cyclonic formations have caused more rain in the post-monsoon season in Jharkhand,” said Abhishek Anand, head of the weather department in Ranchi.
Bihar also received rainfall in many regions such as Parsa and Amnaur in Saran district, Jandaha in Vaishali and Tarari in Bhojpur districts. The eastern state recorded 110.6mm rain against the normal rain of 53.1 mm between October 1 and October 18, a jump of 108%, official data show.
Low pressure over southern Madhya Pradesh and cyclonic circulation over Gangetic West Bengal and adjoining northern Odisha caused the rainfall, said CK Singh, meteorologist at Patna Meteorological Centre.
“The untimely rain in the state will have negative impact on crops,” Patna-based agriculture expert Anil Kumar Jha said. “The excess rain that occurred this month has resulted in abundance of moisture in soil. Consequently, farmers will face difficulty in harvesting ready kharif crops, while sowing for rabi crops, including lentils, oilseeds and grams, will be delayed.”
Several districts in Madhya Pradesh, such as Sheopur and Agar Malwa, witnessed 200mm to 300mm rainfall in 24 hours. Sheopur recorded 312mm rainfall in the past 24 hours, followed by Datia (177mm), Agar Malwa (107.8mm) and Niwari (101mm), according to the local weather office. In Raisen, Agar Malwa, Sheopur, Datia and other parts of northeast Madhya Pradesh, paddy and Bajra crops ready for harvesting have been damaged, officials said.
(With inputs from state bureaus)