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Deadly Floods Ravage Northern India Amid Southwest Monsoon Season

Heavy rainfall triggers floods, leading to multiple deaths and widespread destruction.

Prolific amounts of rainfall triggered raging floodwaters that turned deadly in portions of India over the weekend as the country navigates its wettest time of the year: the southwest monsoon season. 

“Floodwaters may take a significant time to recede even after the heaviest rainfall comes to an end early this week,” said AccuWeather forecasters.

At least 22 people died as a result of flooding or mudslides on Sunday, Reuters reported. These deaths occurred across several northern Indian states where the India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued red alerts for extremely heavy rainfall, including Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab as well as India’s Kashmir region. Red alerts are the highest threat level on the IMD’s warning system.

Following Sunday’s disastrous rainfall, officials in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand urged folks to stay home and avoid travel on Monday as significant flooding persisted.

“On Monday, rescue efforts were ongoing for people caught in the floods throughout Himachal Pradesh where 27 people were rescued from a flooded hotel in Kullu district,” said CNN.

Authorities also used helicopters to rescue people stranded on roads and bridges due to the flooding across Himachal Pradesh, Reuters reported.

A submerged temple is pictured as the river Beas overflows following heavy rains in Mandi in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, India, July 10, 2023. REUTERS/STRINGER/ACCUWEATHER.

Just to the south of the hardest-hit areas, schools in India’s capital city of New Delhi were closed on Monday as travel became increasingly difficult.

On Sunday, New Delhi recorded its wettest July day in just over 40 years when 6 inches (153 mm) of rain fell in 24 hours, according to the IMD. Sunday was New Delhi’s third-wettest July day of all time, behind July 26, 1982, and July 21, 1956.

Staggering rainfall totals have been reported since the heaviest rain began over the weekend. The city of Chandigarh, located in Punjab, received just over 30 inches (763 mm) of rain over the course of 48 hours. Many other weather stations recorded rainfall amounts close to a foot (300 mm) in the same timeframe. Shimla in Himachal Pradesh was inundated by 12.44 inches (316 mm) while nearby Sundernagar recorded 10.28 inches (261 mm).

Extremely heavy rainfall over the past several days has been driven by the southwest monsoon, a meteorological phenomenon that impacts South Asia on an annual basis. Impacts from the southwest monsoon season typically occur from May to September, with some of the heaviest rainfall targeting portions of India from June to August.

The southwest monsoon occurs when the prominent wind direction shifts and winds begin to blow from the southwest to the northeast. This shift in direction sends very moist air from near the equator over the Arabian Sea and across India.

As of July 2, the southwest monsoon had spread over the entirety of India, according to the IMD. “Slight variations in the overall positioning of monsoonal moisture can make a significant difference in where the heaviest rain falls from day to day,” said AccuWeather forecasters.

“The western end of the active monsoon has been south of its normal position,” said AccuWeather Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls.

This slight shift has allowed robust moisture to funnel across northern India and the Himalayan region.

“The heaviest rain looks to shift out of the hardest-hit areas by midweek, but flooding impacts can continue for days beyond when the last drop of rain ultimately falls,” AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Courtney Travis cautioned.

Intense rises on streams and rivers will be slow to recede in the coming days as residents across northern India begin to clean up the extensive mess Mother Nature left behind.

Produced in association with AccuWeather

Edited by Judy J. Rotich and Newsdesk Manager

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