Ground Report | New Delhi: Lightning strikes in India; The Meteorological Department has forecast that there is a possibility of storms and hail and lightning on Wednesday. Incidents of lightning are increasing in the country. Especially in the last few years, the death toll due to lightning in April has increased.
On May 2 last year, 14 people were killed in Andhra Pradesh due to lightning strikes 4,1025 times in a day. This is the highest number of lightning strikes so far. Earlier on April 24, within 13 hours, there were 37 thousand lightning strikes. The incidents of lightning often occur during the monsoon, but now the incidents of lightning have increased even during the pre-monsoon storms and rains.
Local weather changes could also spark additional lightning across the globe, and there may be growing scientific evidence pointing to the development. The increase in the incidence and intensity of lightning in Brazil may be due to world warming and the expansion of main city facilities, research by the Atmospheric Electric Energy Group and Geophysical Analysis Letters in 2020 has revealed.
The frequency and depth of lightning strikes in India are projected to increase by 10-25 percent and 15-50 percent by the top of this century, according to a recently accepted pre-print for the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics. Coastal areas may also be most at risk.
Lightning strikes in India
In the recently released India’s second annual report on lightning by Lightning Resilient India Campaign (LRIC), 18.5 million lightning incidents were recorded in India between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. This is an increase of 34 percent over the previous year; At least 13.8 million strikes were registered between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020.
LRIC is a joint initiative of Climate Resilient Observing-System Promotion Council (CROPC), National Disaster Management Authority, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, World Vision India, UNICEF. The campaign aims to reduce the number of deaths to less than 1,200 per year by 2022.
At least 1,697 people died in lightning strikes between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021. Of this, 401 died in Bihar, followed by Uttar Pradesh (238 deaths) and Madhya Pradesh (228 deaths).
At least 156 people died in Odisha, which accounted for over 13.5 percent of the total lightning strikes in 2020-21. The state witnessed over 2 million strikes during this period.
Lightning in Punjab increased 331%
The incidents of lightning in Punjab increased by 331 percent, followed by Bihar (168 percent), Haryana (164 percent), Puducherry (117 percent), Himachal Pradesh (105 percent), and West Bengal (100 percent). But states such as Odisha and Andhra Pradesh were able to reduce the mortality rate to around 70 percent in a short period of time, the report said.
The lightning events recorded during this period showed that the lightning seasonality was different for different states. For example, Andhra Pradesh recorded maximum incidents in June 2019 and October 2019.
Bihar recorded the highest number of incidents in September 2019, and Odisha in June 2019. It was therefore important that the lightning risk management program for each state was adapted according to the season, intensity, and frequency of lightning, the report said.
Within each state, the seasonality and severity may vary for different regions such as coastal, mountainous, river basins, urban and industrial areas, flagged off the annual report. The report suggested that states should introduce lighting micro-zoning for regions based on their geography to better handle disaster and death risks.