Worst Flood in 200 Years — 1.2 Million People Displaced by Rising Waters in India

When you’re rolling with loaded climate dice the situation, as Indian disaster relief officials stated earlier today, is indeed grim.

*   *   *   *   *

The Earth has been warmed by 1 degree Celsius over the past 135 years due to hundreds of billions of tons of fossil fuels burned. That’s a pace of warming more than 10 times faster than at the end of the last ice age. And with that one degree Celsius of global temperature increase, we get a 7 percent increase in the rate of evaporation and precipitation. Unfortunately, that heat-driven alteration in the hydrological cycle is not even. In some places, where the heat piles high into great atmospheric domes and ridges, we see excessive drought. In other places, the moisture finds a weak spot in the heat and then we see inundation. The ridiculous country-spanning floods that have now become all-too-common.

Komen Monsoon India August 4

(The remnants of tropical cylcone Komen combine with a monsoonal flow over India to produce severe storms over Central and Western India on August 4, 2015. Image source: LANCE-MODIS.)

Droughts and floods of a severity that we are not at all used to and that have greatly contributed to increasing extreme weather events worldwide. Events that over the past seven years displaced nearly 158 million souls. Sadly, that dread toll of displacement, loss of homes, and loss of lives continued this week in South Asia as a flood of Biblical scale devoured an enormous swath of land.

Drought, Heat Mass Casualties, then Flood

For this summer, the situation in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar has been one of drought and flood combined. Earlier this year, the arrival of monsoonal moisture was delayed by the influence of a powerful heat dome crouched over the region. In India, the high temperatures and humidity were so intense that tens of thousands were hospitalized and thousands lost their lives due to heat stroke. Official reports from the region indicated that a precipitation deficit of 10 to 30 percent or more was in the offing. But that was before the skies, super-charged with moisture through an unprecedented rate of evaporation, opened up.

Last week, a frail but rainfall dense tropical cyclone Komen slammed into the coast of Bangladesh. This storm combined with the heavy load of monsoonal moisture building over the region. These conjoined systems have since dumped from 300 to 1300 millimeters of rainfall (more than four feet of rain for some locations) over a broad region including Bangladesh, Myanmar, and the Bengali state of India. It’s a rainfall amount that measures not in inches and millimeters, but in feet and meters. And when you get that much rain there’s going to be some severe hell to pay.

Worst Flood in 200 Years, 13,000 Villages Under Water, 1.2 Million People Displaced

Heavy monsoonal rains are ‘normal’ for India during this time of year. And, as is typical with media outlets who seem mentally incapable of reporting on the impacts of human-caused climate change and related extreme weather these days, many are attempting to claim that the current epic rainfall in India is somehow part of a typical pattern. Nothing could be further from the truth. For by August 1 (two days before the Bengal rains began to shift westward) the day-on-day piling up of water had amounted to the worst flood experienced in all of 200 years of record keeping for the hardest hit regions.

It’s a media silence that pervaded in the earlier stages of this unfolding disaster. One in which only a trickle of reports hit the net or presses. A silence that led one minor local media outlet to issue this irate statement:

Chandra says media has completely ignored this flooding, including the state’s print media and television news channels. The media are mainly based in the state capital, Imphal. The state government is in total chaos and is completely unprepared to tackle the situation. No higher zone is left within the districts, and people are taking shelter in nearby hill stations.

In other words, the only solution for Bengalis during the first few days of this 200 year or worse flood event was to run to the hills.

manipur-flooding

(By Saturday, August 1, flood waters had already surged over river banks and inundated areas like Manipur. Now, more than 13,000 villages and in excess of 10 million people have been impacted. Image source: Blaze.)

Since that time, government and mainstream media response has been more widespread, even if most reports have not set the current extreme event in its proper climate change related extreme event context. Regardless of this widespread failure, yesterday, as reports rolled in that more than 11,000 villages had been buried by water in Bengal, the extreme nature of the situation began to settle in. Sparse news coverage indicated that at least a million people had been impacted and that flood refugees were beginning to pour into disaster shelters. By this morning, a more accurate assessment of the full scope of this disaster had been taken. Over 13,000 villages had been flooded out, more than 10 million persons had been impacted, and the official government count for persons huddling in disaster shelters had climbed to 1.2 million souls.

“Rivers in 13 districts are flowing over their danger marks. The situation is grim,” noted disaster management minister Javed Ahmad Khan to AFP.

Lives lost from the flooding have steadily and ominously increased to over 180. But with so many roads and bridges washed out. With so many villages still under water, it will take weeks before a full account is made of this year’s excessively severe flooding.

India rains

(Heavy rainfall is now focused over Central India with 125 mm [5 inches] or locally higher amounts centered east of Mumbai and southeast of Dehli. Image source: Monsoon of India.)

Severe rains have since shifted to central portions of India so the hard-hit Bengal region should be able to start picking up the pieces. Now it’s Central India that’s falling under the gun as monsoonal moisture is pumped up into towering thunderstorms by Komen’s circulation and southerly outflow.

Storm Heading Toward Mountains

Over the next few days, the most intense storms associated with Komen’s monsoonal interaction are expected to shift north and west, eventually stalling out over the mountainous regions of Northern India and Pakistan. Such a storm track risks increased rates of rainfall over high mountain glaciers. A weather situation that can dramatically increase  glacial ice loss and spike the potential for dangerous glacier outburst flood events.

Links:

At Least 180 Dead, A Million Displaced in India Due to Flooding

How Climate Change Wrecks the Jet Stream, Amps up the Hydrological Cycle to Generate Extreme Weather

LANCE-MODIS

Extreme Weather Related to Climate Change Displaced 158 Million People Over the Last 7 Years

Hothouse Rains Destroy 17,000 Homes in Myanmar

Heatwave Kills 2300 in India

Parts of India Experience Worst Flooding in 200 Years

Blaze

Monsoon of India

Sky News Monsoon Forecast

Hat Tip to Colorado Bob

Leave a comment

33 Comments

  1. climatehawk1

     /  August 4, 2015

    Tweet scheduled.

    Reply
  2. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2015

    Flash floods kill 4 in Macedonia, mud slides cut off villages, power outages reported

    It was the worst storm to hit the region in 35 years, according to Tetovo Mayor Teuta Arifi.

    Check out the rocks this thing was moving.

    Reply
  3. anthropocene

     /  August 4, 2015

    Correction:in the bottom maps of india I’m pretty sure the heaviest rain is south of Delhi not Mumbai (Mumbai is on the south-west coast),

    Reply
  4. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2015

    RS –

    Here we go .

    Reply
  5. -Not unexpected:

    Russia resubmits claim for energy-rich Arctic shelf

    Aug 4 Russia said on Tuesday it has resubmitted a claim to the United Nations for some 1.2 million square km of the Arctic shelf, a drive to secure more of the mineral-rich region where other countries have rival territorial interests.

    The Russian economy is overwhelmingly reliant on natural resources and the Arctic’s estimated huge oil and gas reserves are expected to become more accessible as climate change melts…
    http://in.reuters.com/article/2015/08/04/russia-arctic-idINL5N10F3H920150804

    Reply
    • chron.com/
      Photo: Anonymous, AP

      FILE – In this Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007 file made available by the Association of Russian Polar Explorers on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2007, photo a titanium capsule with the Russian flag is seen seconds after it was planted by the Mir-1 mini submarine on the Arctic Ocean seabed under the North Pole during a record dive. Russia says it has submitted its bid for vast territories in the Arctic to the United Nations. The Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2015, that Russia is claiming 1.2 million square kilometers (over 463,000 square miles) of Artic sea shelf.

      Reply
  6. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2015

    I saw an old women carried out of her home in Tampa. And I saw the same thing in Buma.

    Little kids , and old people can’t run from climate change.

    Reply
    • “Little kids , and old people can’t run from climate change.”
      That’s right.

      Ps I’ve been making this same argument when dealing with air pollution — the ground level portion of FF GHG, etc. Those people are harmed first. We’ve known this for decades. Millions have died already.
      Who mourns for them?
      Don’t ask? Don’t tell?
      .
      What kind of society goes after the weakest?
      It is they who have paid the ‘supreme price’ for our everyday conveniences.
      Enough!

      Reply
  7. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2015

    There’s our flag

    Little kids , and old people can’t run from climate change.

    Reply
    • Little kids and old people can’t run from extreme weather related to climate change. Haven’t met one person, though, that can outrun climate change itself. And the thing is, we’re all either kids or old people at some point in our lives. The harm we do to others comes back to haunt us. Comes back to sit on our porch and give us bad dreams at night. There’s never been a moral imperative to stop the damage like there’s a moral imperative to stop now.

      Reply
  8. Colorado Bob

     /  August 4, 2015

    Just to say what;s important one time –

    There’s our flag

    Little kids , and old people can’t run from climate change.

    Reply
  9. Four Air Force C-130s battling Rocky Fire in California

    …Four Air Force C-130s equipped with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System are operating out of McClellan Airfield in Sacramento to provide the equivalent of close air support to firefighters on the ground.

    http://www.airforcetimes.com/story/military/2015/08/04/four-air-force-c-130s-battling-rocky-fire-california/31120817/

    Reply
    • Photo: Justin Sullivan
      A firefighting air tanker flies in front of the setting sun while battling the Rocky Fire on August 1, 2015 near Clearlake, California.

      Reply
    • That image is so poignant, dtlange. Thanks for posting it.

      Reply
  10. – Incredible, and almost comical: “could give”.
    It’s already happened. — and been going on for at least five years.

    But still, this is important, and signal.
    I’m not sure of the metrics used, tho.

    WaPo

    Climate change could give San Francisco the climate of San Diego, scientists say
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2015/08/04/climate-change-could-give-san-francisco-the-climate-of-san-diego-scientists-say/

    Reply
    • Scientific Reports | Article Open

      Impacts of global warming on residential heating and cooling degree-days in the United States
      Yana Petri & Ken Caldeira
      Climate change is expected to decrease heating demand and increase cooling demand for buildings and affect outdoor thermal comfort. Here, we project changes in residential heating degree-days (HDD) and cooling degree-days (CDD) for the historical (1981–2010) and future (2080–2099) periods in the United States using median results from the Climate Model Intercomparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) simulations under the Representation Concentration Pathway 8.5 (RCP8.5) scenario.

      http://www.nature.com/srep/2015/150804/srep12427/full/srep12427.html

      Reply
  11. Ryan in New England

     /  August 4, 2015

    Great update on a story not found elsewhere, Robert. Such a tragic situation.

    Reply
  12. Reblogged this on GarryRogers Nature Conservation and Science Fiction (#EcoSciFi) and commented:
    Definitely a stay-tuned article.

    Reply
  13. Spike

     /  August 5, 2015

    In last 24 hours from 8:30 am on Tuesday Yavatmal, Wardha, Buldhana, Akola and Amravati have witnessed record breaking rain. Yavatmal has observed a whopping 223 mm of rain, which is an all-time record for the city. The earlier record was 171.1 mm, observed on August 5, 1981.

    http://www.skymetweather.com/content/weather-news-and-analysis/record-breaking-monsoon-rain-in-madhya-pradesh-maharashtra/

    Reply
  1. 2015’s Cruel Climate Count Continues as NASA Shows July Was Hottest On Record | robertscribbler

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