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Gujarat: Lightning and Hailstorms Claim 24 Lives in Unexpected Weather

A sudden and unanticipated onslaught of lightning, intense rain, and hailstorms in western Gujarat state, India, has left at least 24 people dead and caused significant damage to property and livestock. Meteorologists noted that such storms are uncommon in Gujarat during the winter season, catching residents off guard. The incident highlights the increasing frequency of extreme weather events in the region, with scientists linking them to rising global temperatures. As the affected areas continue to grapple with adverse weather conditions, authorities are urging caution.

Unusual Storms in Gujarat:

The recent weather disturbances in Gujarat during the winter season have raised concerns, as the region typically experiences milder weather during this time. The intense downpour led to flash floods, house damage, and casualties, with livestock also falling victim to the severe conditions.

Lightning Strikes and Meteorological Factors:

Meteorological experts attribute the unusual storms to the collision of three weather systems over Gujarat. The easterly winds from the Arabian Sea, the Western Disturbance over the Western Himalayas, and the Cyclonic Circulation over South Gujarat converged, resulting in lightning strikes and intense rainfall. Rising land and sea surface temperatures, a consequence of global warming, contribute to the energy available for such thunderstorms.

Impact and Response:

As of late Sunday, 18 of the reported 24 deaths were attributed to lightning strikes. The affected areas received up to 144mm (5.7 inches) of rain within 24 hours, leading to significant challenges for the residents and local authorities. India’s Home Minister, Amit Shah, expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives and assured ongoing relief efforts. Local authorities are engaged in relief work to address the aftermath of the severe weather.

The Human Toll:

Heartbreaking stories emerged from the affected areas, illustrating the human cost of the unexpected storm. Farmer Yogesh Patel lost his life when lightning struck a tree under which he sought shelter during the heavy rain. Such incidents highlight the immediate dangers posed by extreme weather events, necessitating increased awareness and preparedness among communities.

Lightning Strikes in India:

India has faced a longstanding challenge with lightning strikes, resulting in thousands of fatalities each year. Lightning strikes claimed more than 100,000 lives between 1967 and 2019, constituting a significant portion of natural hazard-related deaths. Despite the increasing number of lightning strikes, reported fatalities have been decreasing in recent years due to improved lightning risk management, including enhanced forecasting and early warning systems.

The recent tragedy in Gujarat serves as a poignant reminder of the unpredictable nature of extreme weather events and their potential to cause substantial human and environmental impact. As climate change continues to influence weather patterns, communities and authorities must prioritize preparedness and resilience to mitigate the adverse effects of such occurrences in the future.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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