Top 10 Bizarre and Extreme Indian Weather Anomalies
India has regions with climates ranging from the arid regions of Thar to snow-clad peaks of Himalayas to the wettest places of the world in Meghalaya. Weather plays a dominant role in India’s economy as a bad monsoon can shoot the inflation rates here through the roof. There are many little unknown aspects about Indian climate and weather that are presented here in a compilation of top 10 bizarre and extreme Indian weather anomalies.
Alwar, Rajasthan (Highest Recorded Temperature)
Alwar district of Rajasthan holds the record for the highest ever recorded temperature in India of 50.6 degree celsius in May 10, 1956. Though Orissa reported a temperature of 55 degree celsius in 2005, Indian Meteorological Department doubts the validity of this claim. Alwar is located 160 km south of Delhi. Alwar district lies on the eastern border of the Thar Desert.
Dras, Ladakh (Coldest Recorded Temperature)
Dras is a town in the Kargil district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is the second coldest inhabited place in the world second only to Siberia. Dras also holds the record for the coldest temperature recorded in India, which is -50 degree celsius. Dras is located at staggering 3230 m above sea level. It is 56 km from the Kargil town. The Kargil war saw the town being shelled by infiltrators and the war ended with the Indian Army recapturing these areas. The only other place where even lower temperature recorded was at Indian-controlled Siachen Glacier with unreliable instruments.
2003 Southern Indian Heat Wave
Heat wave of 2003 in Souther India was one of the worst heat waves recorded in Indian history. Nearly 1500 causalities were reported officially due to heat exhaustion and sunstroke as a result of blistering heave wave throughout the country in the month of May. Southern states of Orissa, Tamil Nadu and Andra Pradesh were the worst affected with mercury climbing in these states to scorching 50 degree celsius. Parts of India were as hot as African Sahara Desert as evidenced from satellite imagery. The heat wave had persisted longer than expected partly due to weak and late monsoon. By the second week of June, monsoon had begun to arrive in some areas giving them desperately needed break from the heat.
2010 Ladakh Cloudburst
Cloudburst is an extreme amount of rainfall that last no longer than minutes that is sometimes accompanied by hail and thunder. Ladakh is an unusual place for a cloudburst because it is a cold desert region where average rain fall is low. On August 5, 2010 cloud cluster that developed over east of Leh started downpouring that lasted for nearly an hour. The heavy downpour dumped nearly 250 mm of rain over a period of one hour. Before this event, the maximum ever recorded rainfall in Leh was 96.2 mm in a 24 hour period measured in 1933. Tourism Department confirmed over 2500 causalities, most of whom were foreign tourists. The tourists who survived were airlifted and brought to Delhi.
1737 Calcutta Cyclone
In the month of October in 1737, Calcutta witnessed the worst cyclone in the recorded history of India. The hurricane force winds were reported to be accompanied by an earthquake and extensive flooding with an estimated death toll of 3,00,000. The absence of evidence for soil liquefaction suggests that perhaps no substantial earthquake occurred. It should be noted that the population of Calcutta at that time was around 3,000 to 20,000. The fatalities estimated in London and French journals exceeded the official report of greater than 3000. Although official reports discussed only the damage in Calcutta, it is possible that the 300,000 estimated fatalities included those in coastal villages in what is now West Bengal and Bangladesh. It is evident that the large number of fatalities was caused by widespread flooding. The cyclone also destroyed nearly 20,000 ships.
Cherrapunji holds the record for the second wettest place in the world with an average rainfall of 11,777. It is located in East Khasi Hills district in the Indian state of Meghalaya about 16 km east of Mawsynram, which is the wettest place in the world (next in list). It lies at an elevation of 1484 meters above sea level. Cherrapunji receives both the southwest and northeast monsoonal winds. Cherrapunji still holds the records for most rainfall in a year from 1 August 1860 and 31 July 1861 with a rainfall of 26,461 mm. A notable feature of the rainfall here is that most of it falls in the morning. The locals living in and around Cherrapunjee are known as Khasis.
Mawsynram located in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya is reported to be the wettest place in the world with rainfall here annually averaging 11,873 mm. The village is located 1400 meters above sea level. Mawsynram features a subtropical highland climate with an extraordinarily rainy and lengthy monsoonal season. The village has brief dry season from the month of December to February. The warm moist winds of the northward-moving air from the Bay of Bengal during the monsoon, which cover an extensive area but forced to converge into the narrower zone over the Khasi Hills result in concentrating their moisture.
Hailstones are formed by ice crystals being tossed up and down inside storm clouds. Most hails measure between a quarter-inch to nearly 6 inches in diameter. In April of 1888, Moradabad in the present state of Uttar Pradesh experienced the worst hailstorm in the recorded history. People reported hailstones varying in size from pigeon’s eggs to the size of oranges. Large hailstones fall at speeds exceeding 100 mph. About 230 people were killed in the hailstorm and there was extensive loss of livestock. Sixteen others died in the nearby Bareilly. The storm was accompanied by strong winds, which toppled many houses in the region. Most of the people who were injured or died were farmers of the community, who were working in their fields. By the time the storm had dissipated, there was accumulation of hail up to two feet.
Fish rain in Jamnagar
Residents of Navagam were baffled when it was raining fishes all around them in October of 2009. Navagam is a village in Bhanwad Taluka of Jamnagar in Gujarat. The fishes measured 2 to 6 inches long and they were on roads and even terraces of some houses. This was not an isolated incident as a couple of days later Bantiya village in Vanthali taluka of Junagadh district had experienced the same phenomenon. This village lies about 140 km south of Jamnagar. Though fish rains have been reported all over the world, this was the first time it was officially reported in India. Fish rain was previously reported by residents of Kandanassery village in Kerala in February of 2008, but it did not have widespread media coverage and the source of information of these reports to date remain murky. Fish rains have also been reported in Australia, Singapore and particularly in the city of Yoro in the Central American nation of Honduras that experiences this phenomenon each year for the past century.
Red Rain in Kerala
The southern districts of Kottayam and Idukki of Kerala witnessed an unusual phenomenon on July 25 to September 23, 2001 when the rain was unusually red tinged. Colored rainfall in Kerala had been reported as early as 1986 and on several instances since then, the most recent of which was in June of 2012. In 2006, red rain in Kerala gained widespread media attention when scientists from Mahatma Gandhi University proposed that the colored particles were extraterrestrial cells. Under electron microscope the solid pigment separated from water resembled biological cells. Initially, official reports indicated that the red pigment was dispersed by an exploding meteor, but later, following more thorough evaluation, cells resembled spores of lichen-forming algae belonging to the genus Trentepohlia. On further investigation, it was discovered that these areas had abundance of such type of algae in trees, rocks and even lamp posts.