Updated: 5/29/2018 11:29:16 AM
Severe storms that hit several Indian states on Monday and Tuesday, May 28 and 29, 2018, claimed at least 45 lives, officials said. The storms are just the latest in a series of unusually strong storms in India this year. The death toll since the start of the month has now reached at least 250. More than 440 people were injured.
Published Sunday, May 27, 2018
A streak of unusually intense thunderstorms, dust storms and lightning ravaged India this year, claiming lives of more than 200 people and causing huge material damage. While dust storms and thunderstorms are common in the country at this time, the intensity appears to be anomalous, NASA's Earth Observatory reports.
The state of Andhra Pradesh in the country's southeast was struck by about 40 000 lightning bolts in just 13 hours late April 2018. That more than the number of strikes that occurred in the entire month of May 2017.
On May 2, 2018, a cluster of strong thunderstorms, accompanied by strong winds and lightning, swept through the Rajasthan region in the north, knocking over large structures and harming those in the way. The potent thunderstorms whipped up one of the deadliest dust storms in decades.
One week later, the same region was hit by more deadly thunderstorms that brought lightning, 110 km/h (65 mph), and violent dust storms.
"Dust storms and thunderstorms are common in India at this time, but the intensity this year appears to be anomalous," Earth Observatory's Kasha Patel writes. "The unusual weather could have a combination of causes, including extra moisture from a cyclonic circulation over West Bengal colliding with destructive dusty winds. High temperatures in the area also made the atmosphere unstable, fueling thunderstorms and heavy winds."
The unusually high number of lightning strikes was caused by cold winds from the Arabian Sea colliding with warmer winds from northern India, leading to the formation of more clouds than usual.
"Despite the spike in lightning this April, long-term satellite data do not show any strong trends in India," said Richard Blakeslee, an atmospheric scientist at NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center. India has long been prone to lightning strikes, which are believed to cause more fatalities than any other natural hazard in the country.
Thunderstorms India Facts
Affected Area: 1 km.
Alert Level: Orange