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Climate Change: India rocked by thunder and dust storms

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News Analysis |

A dust storm swept through Bikaner, in India’s northwestern Rajasthan state, on May 7, five days after an electrical dust storm toppled trees and power lines and collapsed houses in other parts of the state, reportedly killing at least 27 people.

Last week, northern India was hit by a severe dust storm killing over 120 people and injuring at least 300 across several States. The India Meteorological Department officials admit that the severity of the dust storm was high and it needs to be studied further to understand the associated trends. Experts also believe that the severity and frequency of dust storms are expected to rise in years ahead due to rising global temperature.

Dust storms, rain and thunder lashed parts of northern India on Tuesday, uprooting trees and blowing the roofs off homes in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla district but striking with less fury in other places. Normal life was disrupted in parts of Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicting more bad weather on Wednesday. A severe storm, accompanied by hail and rain, hit Shimla and other parts of Himachal Pradesh, while the higher reaches of the state experienced snowfall.

K. Sathi Devi, who is the head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre of IMD, said “severity of the dust storms and thunderstorms was on the higher side as compared to last year” but “the period of their occurrence remains the same”.

The hailstorm triggered traffic jams, snapped power supply, uprooted trees and blew off roofs in parts of Shimla district. Rainwater flooded the main roads and entered some buildings in the state capital.

In Rajasthan, a dust storm hit places in Jodhpur and Bikaner divisions and isolated areas in Jaipur, Ajmer and Kota regions. Officials said no loss to life or major damage to property was reported till late Tuesday evening.

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The meteorological department said many parts of the state could again see a dust storm or thunderstorm in the next 24 hours. Strong winds hit Ajmer, Jaipur, Sikar and nearby areas on Tuesday morning, leaving trees uprooted and sign boards damaged. Moderate to light rains occurred at places in Jodhpur, Bikaner, Jaipur and Ajmer divisions while the weather remained dry in other divisions, according to the meteorological department.

Parts of Delhi witnessed a dust storm coupled with a drizzle in the evening, with meteorological department keeping an eye on its progress. Light to moderate rains lashed parts of Punjab and Haryana, including Chandigarh, leading to a sharp fall in temperature. Ambala, Panchkula, Mohali, and Patiala were also hit by rain in the two states.

Dust storms, rain and thunder lashed parts of northern India on Tuesday, uprooting trees and blowing the roofs off homes in Himachal Pradesh’s Shimla district but striking with less fury in other places.

The meteorological department warned on Tuesday that thunderstorms and squalls with a wind speed of up to 70 kilometers per hour are “very likely” in Uttarakhand and parts of eastern India on Wednesday, signaling that the freak weather phenomenon over northern India has moved eastward.

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In an advisory, the department said thunderstorms with gusty winds are “very likely” in parts of Himachal Pradesh, east Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand. It said a similar weather pattern is likely to be witnessed in West Bengal, and in six of the seven northeastern states, except Mizoram.

India’s national forecaster, IMD, is also openly admitting that the storm that hit northern India, last week, was severe and their frequency could increase due to global warming. K. Sathi Devi, who is the head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre of IMD, said “severity of the dust storms and thunderstorms was on the higher side as compared to last year” but “the period of their occurrence remains the same”.


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