Extreme weather events making the year 2023 more deadly

In the first four months of 2023, a total of 32 states and union territories of India experienced extreme weather events, indicating an increase compared to the previous year. These events resulted in the loss of 233 human lives and caused damage to approximately 0.95 million hectares of agricultural land.

Extreme weather events

The increasing frequency of extreme weather events underscores India’s growing vulnerability to the impacts of climate change. The ‘India’s State of Environment 2023 in Figures’ report provides valuable insight into the environmental conditions prevailing in the country during this period.

The report reveals that from January to April 2023, several states faced a series of extreme weather events. These events included hailstorms, heat waves, heavy rain, flooding, landslides, snowfall, lightning, storms, and cold snaps. Such events occurred over a significant number of days, highlighting the need for effective adaptation and resilience strategies.

The report also provides information on the frequency of different extreme weather events between January and April 2023. Lightning and storms occurred for 58 days, heat waves were experienced for 15 days, torrential rains, floods and landslides affected the region for 21 days, snowfall occurred on 10 days, and there were 2 days of cold snaps or cold days.

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The winter, which spanned January and February, saw 38 of 59 days marked by extreme weather events, affecting 21 states and union territories. Uttar Pradesh witnessed the highest number of extreme events in 25 days, closely followed by Madhya Pradesh with 24 days and Punjab with 15 days. In total, India experienced extreme weather events on 84 out of 120 days during this period.

Surprisingly, despite experiencing the third wettest January since 1951, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala all recorded deficit rainfall. This was in contrast to the central and southern regions, which recorded above-average rainfall.

Extreme weather events in India in first four months of 2023

EventNumber of daysStates affected
Hailstorms12Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Heat waves15Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Heavy rain, flooding, landslides21Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Snowfall10Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh
Lightning and storms58All states except Andaman and Nicobar Islands and Lakshadweep
Cold snaps or cold days2Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand

The pre-monsoon period, from March to May, saw even more intense extreme weather events. Of the 92 days, 81 days were marked by such events, which affected 31 states and union territories. Rajasthan and Assam experienced extreme events for 36 days, followed by Himachal Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh with 32 days each.

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The unusually hot months of March and April led to the early onset of heat waves, which persisted for 51 days across the country. In May there was heavy rain, which eased the scorching temperatures somewhat.

These findings highlight India’s increasing vulnerability to extreme weather events and the need for proactive measures to mitigate their impacts. As climate change continues to influence weather patterns, it becomes imperative that policymakers and communities prioritize adaptation and resilience-building efforts.

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