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Sudden storm in Hyderabad: What is a cloudburst, how is it different from rain?

A sudden downpour wreaked havoc in Hyderabad on Monday, causing suffocating traffic for over five hours and the deaths of seven people in the city and its surrounds.

science Updated: Oct 03, 2017 13:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Cloudburst,Telangana cloudburst,Science news
The city received more than 13 centimetres of rainfall in a span of five hours.(Representative image)

Buildings collapsed, crops destroyed, cars were crushed and areas were inundated after sudden thunderstorms and heavy rains lashed Hyderabad and neighbouring cities on Monday.

Downpour in Hyderabad halted traffic for more than 5 hours and seven people died due to lightning and rain-related accidents.

The heavy rains were attributed by the Hyderabad Meteorological Department to a weather phenomena called ‘cloudburst’.

A cloudburst over Uttarakhand in June 2013 triggered one of India’s deadliest natural calamities, killing thousands and resulting in huge losses to property. At least 200 people were reported dead in Ladakh after the flash floods that occurred due to a cloudburst in August 2010.

Here’s all you need to know about cloudbursts:

What is cloud burst?

A cloudburst is a localised weather phenomena in which heavy rainfall occurs over a small area for a few hours. It can lead to flash floods, landslides, house collapse, dislocation of traffic and human casualties on a large scale.

How is it different from rain?

A report in the Down to Earth said a cloudburst is different from rain only in the amount of rainfall recorded. Rain over 100mm per hour is categorised as a cloudburst.

How do cloudbursts happen?

Cloudbursts happen when rain droplets are carried upwards, instead of dropping, because of warm currents of air. It causes new, larger droplets to form, which results in heavy rain as the drops become too heavy for the cloud.

Kedarnath Temple and the buildings around it were destroyed by the torrential rains and floods that claimed many lives and caused devastation in Uttarakhand in June, 2013. ( HT File Photo )

Where do cloudbursts occur?

Cloudbursts can happen in plains too but hilly areas can be more prone to this phenomena, The Indian Express reported. Hilly terrains have heated air currents that move upwards, acting as catalysts to cloudbursts.

Can it be predicted?

There is no satisfactory technique for anticipating the occurrence of cloud bursts because they develop over a small period of time. A very fine net work of radars is required to be able to detect the likelihood of a cloud burst and this would be expensive. Only the areas likely to receive heavy rainfall can be identified on a short range scale. Much of the damage can be avoided by way of identifying the areas and the meteorological situations that favour the occurrence of cloud bursts.

First Published: Oct 03, 2017 13:12 IST

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