Images from different disasters. Used for indicative purpose only

Catastrophic monsoon hits Himachal Pradesh, IMD forecast under scrutiny

Shimla, July 14

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) is facing severe criticism following the major natural disaster that struck the region on July 9 and 10. The IMD’s monsoon forecast, which predicted below-normal rainfall, may perhaps have left the state ill-prepared for the torrential downpour and subsequent devastation that ensued.

Also read: Normal to below normal Southwest monsoon predicted for Himachal Pradesh and Northwestern Himalayan states: IMD

Contrary to the IMD’s predictions, data released by the Met Office revealed that the first half of the monsoon season experienced an astonishing 80 to 90 percent excess rainfall. This significant disparity between the forecast and the actual weather conditions has raised concerns about the reliability and accuracy of the IMD’s predictions.

Many believe that a crucial oversight by the IMD was its failure to account for the impact of Western disturbances (WDs) during the monsoon season. While the department has excelled in monsoon forecasting, it may have lacked an early warning system specifically designed to track WDs during this period. As a result, the IMD’s forecast did not consider the adverse effects of WDs, contributing to the severity of the natural disaster.

The state government of Himachal Pradesh found itself in a dire situation, with limited access to critical data and resources controlled by the Union Government. Despite a red alert being issued by the IMD, the warning came too late for adequate preparations to be made. The consequences were devastating, particularly in Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur districts, which were initially excluded from the red alert but experienced record-breaking levels of rain and snow.

Also read:Severe Weather warning: Red alert issued for Himachal Pradesh

Lahaul-Spiti witnessed historical three to four feet snow on 12500 to 14000 ft and 3340 per cent excess rainfall. Avalanche and Flash flood occurred in Pagalnalh of Lahaul-Spiti on July 10 and cloudburst in Recong-peo on July 11. Thousands of tourists stranded in the Manali-Leh highway. Also read: Devastating downpour strikes Lahaul-Spiti, stuns climate experts 

The tragedy in Himachal Pradesh echoes the recurring monsoon-related disasters that have plagued Uttarakhand over the past six years. Weather experts attribute these incidents to the combined impact of WDs, cyclones, and the monsoon season. Although the IMD did predict the occurrence of WDs alongside the monsoon on July 7 and 8, it failed to adjust its long-range monsoon forecast to account for these weather phenomena.

The fallout from the IMD’s erroneous monsoon forecast and subsequent unpreparedness underscores the urgent need for a more comprehensive and reliable forecasting system. The IMD must re-evaluate its methodologies and incorporate the influence of WDs during the monsoon season to prevent such tragedies in the future.

As the affected regions grapple with the aftermath of this natural disaster, immediate attention is now focused on assessing the extent of the damage, providing relief and aid to the affected communities, and implementing measures to mitigate the impact of future disasters


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