14:16 GMT28 January 2020
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    The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has blamed the well-known phenomenon of western disturbance for the current spell of bad weather in India which has resulted in heavy loss of life and property.

    New Delhi (Sputnik): The powerful storms in the last couple of days which have brought dust, lighting, thunder, heavy rain and hailstones to India have killed 65 people, according to the National Disaster Management Authority.

    The north Indian state of Rajasthan witnessed 25 deaths, while in Madhya Pradesh 14 peoples lost their lives. In Gujarat, ten people were reported dead and two people lost their lives in the east Indian state of Bihar. The state of Maharashtra also witnessed 14 deaths due to the deadly weather. 

    Sputnik spoke to Dr Mrityunjay Mahapatra, additional director general of India's Meteorological Department, about the current spate of uncharacteristic bad weather.

    READ MORE: Lightning, Thunderstorms, Floods Killed 1,006 People in India in Under 2 Months

    Sputnik: Extreme weather conditions have impacted large parts of India, claiming lives. What caused this? Was it sudden?

    Dr Mrityunjay Mahapatra: No it wasn't sudden. We had been saying from 13 April that there is a western disturbance arriving in north-eastern parts India. We had predicted that north-eastern India and the adjacent eastern and central India will record heavy rainfall coupled with strong winds. In fact, our prediction was that whole of India will experience unseasonal rain. In fact, state governments did not prepare adequately in advance.

    Apart from rainfall, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh also experienced hailstorms. My prediction is that the western disturbance will slowly move towards east and will remain over India for the next 24 hours and is likely to lead widespread rainfall in North India. In the next 24 hours its effect will be felt more in Uttar Pradesh and adjoining areas. Apart from that, Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana will also experience heavy to moderate rainfall. 

    Sputnik: Western disturbance is not a new phenomenon as it occurs every year, but why did it create so much havoc this time?

    Dr Mrityunjay Mahapatra: Western Disturbances develop in the Caspian Sea area and then it move towards east to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally reaches to north-eastern parts of India. When a western disturbance reaches over India it disturbs the weather, therefore it is called Western Disturbance. It is a weather system which moves from west to east and its genesis is in the Caspian Sea area. It enters into India through the north-western part of the country.

    The Western Disturbance this year was very active which resulted into loss of life and property due to two reasons. In fact, before the onset of Western Disturbance, our north-eastern India was hot, further there was moisture incursion in Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea. Therefore, Western Disturbances coupled with hot surface of north-eastern India and moisture incursion led to strong disturbances in weather which resulted into strong winds, heavy rainfall and lighting. Therefore, it resulted in loss of life and property.    

    READ MORE: Delhi Planning Artificial Rains to Tackle its Pollution Mess

    Sputnik: What is your forecast for next 24 hours, as several parts of India are still experiencing rainfall?

    Dr Mrityunjay Mahapatra:  My prediction is that the intensity of Western Disturbances has decreased but there will be fairly widespread rainfall over Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, north-east Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand in the next 24 hours. But I am expecting hailstorms and squally winds in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand states.


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