Extreme weather events claimed 1,400 lives in 2020

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NEW DELHI: The year 2020 was the eighth warmest year in India since nation-wide records commenced in 1901, said India Meteorological Department (IMD) in its ‘Climate of India during 2020’ report, highlighting how extreme weather events claimed over 1,400 lives with thunderstorms and lightning together accounting for more than half of them. Month-wise, September was the warmest, August was the second warmest and October was the third warmest in 2020 since 1901 as far as monthly mean temperatures, compared to their normal, over the country are concerned.
The report, released on Monday, said the annual mean land surface and air temperature for the country last year was 0.29 degree Celsius above the 1981-2010 period average, but this was substantially lower than the highest warming observed over India during 2016 (above 0.71 degree Celsius).

“The mean temperatures exceeded the normal during September (by 0.72 degree Celsius, warmest since 1901), August (by 0.58 degree Celsius, second warmest), October (by 0.94 degree Celsius, third warmest), July (by 0.56 degree Celsius, fifth warmest), and December (by 0.39 degree Celsius, seventh warmest),” said the report. The IMD noted that 12 out of 15 warmest years were during the recent fifteen years (2006-2020) with the year 2019 being the seventh warmest. The five warmest years on record were: 2016 (+0.71 degree Celsius), 2009 (+0.55 degree Celsius), 2017 (+0.54 degree Celsius), 2010 (+0.54 degree Celsius), and 2015 (+0.42 degree Celsius).
Globally, the mean surface temperature anomaly during 2020 (January to October as per WMO state of the global climate) was +1.2 degree Celsius. The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) will come out with the global January-December figure by March.
Annual rainfall over India as a whole was 109% of its Long Period Average (LPA), based on the data of 1961-2010, last year. The report also enlisted high impact weather events like, extremely heavy rainfall, floods, landslides, thunderstorms, lightning, cold waves, highlighting that Bihar and Uttar Pradesh were the most adversely affected states during the year which reportedly claimed more than 350 deaths each.
“Thunderstorms and lightning reportedly claimed 815 lives from different parts of the country. Among these, 280 from Bihar, 220 from Uttar Pradesh, 122 from Jharkhand, 72 from Madhya Pradesh, 23 from Maharashtra and 20 from Andhra Pradesh were significant,” the IMD report said, noting that it arrived at these figures based on the media and government reports.
These numbers may change after states update their figures with the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA). During 2020, five cyclones formed over the North Indian Ocean. “Of these, Nisarga and Gati formed over Arabian Sea, while the remaining three cyclones — Amphan, Nivar, Burevi — formed over the Bay of Bengal. Out of these five most devastating cyclones, the Super Cyclonic Storm Amphan formed in the pre-monsoon season and crossed West Bengal coast over Sundarbans on May 20,” said the report, noting that it claimed 90 lives, mainly in West Bengal.

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