Trough lock to cyclonic storms: What caused Kerala, Uttarakhand rains

Uttarakhand floods
A group of pilgrims move to safety amid the heavy rains and floods in Uttarakhand | Photo - ANI/Twitter

Many parts of the country have been witnessing high-intensity downpours, violent gusts, devastating landslips, and other extreme climatic phenomena. The southern state of Kerala, a patch of land in between the Arabian Sea on the west and the Western Ghats on the east, and the hill state of Uttarakhand have seen the most destruction in recent days.

In Kerala, rain started playing truant after weathermen noticed a ‘trough lock’ fixated over the state. [A trough is an extended period of low pressure]. They said it was unusual and an alert was sounded. Also, winds blowing in from the east contributed to heavy rain.

Cyclonic storms

Weathermen said a confluence of cyclonic storms forming in the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea is usually the major reason behind heavy rain in different parts of the country. Climate experts said the intensity of rain in Kerala and Uttarakhand is ‘alarming’ and must draw immediate attention towards ‘climate emergency.’


Ishteyaque Ahmed, Senior Climate Campaigner, Greenpeace India, said these rains were a consequence of the cyclonic storms from the east and the west and can lead to huge environmental losses and derail food security of the country.

“Rising oceanic temperatures can strengthen otherwise weak cyclones and make them deadlier than expected. India is facing this crisis from three sides. In the last few days cyclonic storms are continuously forming in the Bay of Bengal as well as in the Arabian Sea. The confluence of such eastern and western storms is among the biggest causes of such disastrous rains in different parts of the country. These untimely erratic rains, responsible for big human and environmental losses can derail the food and nutritional security initiatives of the country, which is already at the brink of a major food and nutrition crisis,” Ahmed said.

He also said that more such extreme weather events can occur in the future.

“In a transitional phase, it is next to impossible to predict for the future, but seemingly rising oceanic temperatures and destruction of floral and faunal aquatic lives, more frequent and frightening extreme weather events cannot be ruled out,” he said.
According to V. Vinoj, Assistant Professor, IIT Bhubaneswar, states and the country as a whole need to be ‘climate smart.’ He suggested specific warning system to be installed to tackle the climate situation better.

“It is now well-known that anthropogenic climate change will lead to extreme weather patterns. Therefore, it is now imperative that their impacts on life and property are minimised by following locally relevant adaptation measures. In parallel, efforts on mitigation efforts should be hastened so as to slow climate change. A specific warming system taking in to consideration the local vulnerabilities will go a long way in saving lives. In addition, adaptation measures, again taking climate resilience as the central issue will be beneficial in the long run. In summary, our country, states and cities should be climate smart,” he said.

Incessant rains have claimed at least 34 lives in Uttarakhand and 39 in Kerala over the past week. Nainital was cut off from the rest of the state with three roads leading to the popular tourist spot blocked due to a series of landslides. Landslides have blocked the exits in the town and electricity, telecom and internet connectivity in Nainital district was also hit badly.

(With inputs from Agencies)