After floods, Kerala now stares at drought as temperatures soar
Six months after a devastating flood crippled Kerala, the state is in the grip of a severe drought and experts have warned that heat wave conditions will persist in many areas of north Kerala for more than a month.
According to the Kerala Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA), some of the districts like Palakkad, Kozhikkode and Malappuram temperature is likely to go up by 6 degrees above normal. It has also warned of sunstroke and other heat-related maladies during this period.
On Monday, at least four districts recorded maximum temperature above 36 degrees Celsius, which is quite unusual at the beginning of summer months. Cattle and goat deaths were reported from the worst-affected Palakkad district.
The state labour department has rescheduled working hours, preventing outdoor work from 12 pm to 3 pm until further orders and asked construction sites and farmers to comply with the order strictly.
With mercury level soaring, the KSDMA has listed necessary measures for people to follow during the scorching days ahead. Since humidity levels are quite high in the state, the high temperatures will compound woes of people who are exposed to the sun.
Experts said vast destruction of green cover during the August floods, difficulty in groundwater recharging due to topsoil removal, El Nino effect and changing construction models are to be blamed for the hike in temperature. If the situation continues like this, the state is likely to witness a scorching summer and water scarcity, they warned.
“Every year, temperature is going up steadily. But nothing is there to panic,” said atmospheric science expert Dr S Abhilash of the Cochin University of Science and Technology, adding that the KSDMA warning was an exaggeration.
“The world has warmed up by 1-1.5 degrees in the last three decades or so. Going by the El Nino possibility and global warming, it can go up to 2 degrees in the state. Going by indications El Nino effect is likely to be partially harsh in 2019,” said Abhilash.
El Nino is the periodic warming of the water in the Pacific Ocean. When it occurs, more energy is available to storms to form there. It also affects wind shear which is when air currents at a lower altitude blow in different directions from winds higher in the atmosphere. It also affects temperature and wind pattern, experts say. El Nino and monsoon are strongly related — it weakens winds and triggers pressure difference lowering the wind speed considerably.