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Above-average rainfall, widespread floods hit India, killing more than 80 people in just 4 days


Above-average rainfall affecting the Indian states of Bihar and Uttar Pradesh over the past 4 days claimed lives of more than 80 people. Very heavy rainfall is expected to continue over the next two days. 

Two main rivers in Uttar Pradesh are overflowing after record rainfall caused severe flooding in densely populated areas on the banks of the rivers. The state received record rainfall 1 700% above average on September 27, NDTV reports. The eastern parts of the state are worst hit. On Saturday, Prayagraj received 102.2 mm (4.0 inches) of rain and Varanasi received 84.2 mm of rain (3.3 inches), much higher than what is usually received at this time of the year.

At least 73 people have died in the state since September 26, 47 on September 26 an 27 and 26 on September 28.

'Unprecedented downpour' flooded homes, roads and hospitals across Bihar's capital Patna (population 3.4 million). At least 7 people have died in the state, of those 4 in Patna, since September 26. A red alert is in effect, indicating 'heavy to very heavy rainfall' through September 30.

Several state-run hospitals including the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital, which is one of the largest in Patna, are flooded. Videos shared on social media showed patients sitting on beds in flooded hospital rooms. To evacuate people, 32 boats have been pressed into service in flooded parts of the city, according to NDTV.

Heavy rain is also falling in Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh report 6 casualties and Jammu and Kashmir 1, since September 27.

The 2019 Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) is shaping up as one of the strongest on record, said Dr. Saji N Hameed, Professor at Japan's University of Aizu, one of the people who discovered IOD and among the world's leading experts on the phenomenon.

"The IOD's influence on the Indian region has a distinct regional signature. There are significant positive correlations between IOD and rainfall over central India and northwestern India This influence extends towards regions of Pakistan and Iran as well. The monsoon rainfall pattern of 2019 reflects the influence of IOD, with excess cumulative rainfall observed over western Madhya Pradesh, Saurashtra and Kutch, and northern parts of the Western Ghats (Goa, Maharashtra, and northern Kerala)." 

"However, the monsoonal rainfall as a whole has significant decadal variations, and many regions of India are not affected by IOD. Therefore, it is not expected that IOD will influence All India (averaged) rainfall as a whole."

"I mostly fear about the situation in East Africa, which is vulnerable even without an adverse climate event. We are talking about millions of people being displaced, emergence of Rift Valley fever and other flood-related issues as experienced during the strong IOD of 2006," Hameed said earlier this month.

Yearly changes in the Dipole Mode Index (DMI) – DMI is defined as the sea surface temperature anomaly difference between tropical western Indian Ocean and the southeastern Indian Ocean. Positive DMI values (red) point to a positive IOD year, and negative values (blue) to negative IOD years. Image credit: Dr. Saji N Hameed (http://enformtk.u-aizu.ac.jp)

Featured image credit: CGTN

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