India Under Storm

Severe electrical and dust storms proving fatal during monsoon season

Nearly 100 people have been killed by severe dust storms, triggered by an electrical storm during another fatal monsoon season in India. Housing collapses, lightning strikes, and now the influx of dust have combined to create a deadly and dire situation.

In some areas, the dust has been thick enough to fully block out the sun:

Monsoon season is an annual threat for residents of the subcontinental region, especially in the states of Maharashtra, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. Records dating from 1979 to 2011 indicate that about 5,259 persons have been killed by lightning strikes in India, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD) database used in a study by the Royal Meterological Society.

Information on fatalities in India as a result of lightning flashes has been extracted from a database on disastrous weather events of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The maximum number of lightning fatalities was observed in the states of Maharashtra (29%), West Bengal (12%) and Uttar Pradesh (9%). The spatial variation shows that lightning fatalities are higher over west central India, but each state has its own contributing factors. Mahararashta, which contains Mumbai, lies on the western coast of the country. West Bengal is in the low-lying northeastern region bordering Bangladesh, infamous for some of the most drastic recent increases in sea levels. Uttar Pradesh, meanwhile, though inland, gets its share of flooding from the bordering Himalayas to its north-northeast.

A significant number of males (89%) have been killed by lightning flashes compared to females (5%) and children (6%) in India, which is most likely due to the larger proportion of males working and moving outdoors in lonely conditions. The overall fatality rate is about 0.25 per million population per year in India. The lightning fatalities are significantly more common in the rainy and the summer seasons. Comparisons were also made between the results of the present study and similar studies carried out in different parts of the world. Therefore, this study provides useful information on the risky lightning time in India to indicate a public awareness and lightning safety campaign.

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