Thunderstorm in India Kills 15
Intense Thunderstorm in India
A strong thunderstorm in India ripped through the state of Bihar on Tuesday, 9 May 2017. The thunderstorm resulted in a 2-minute thundersquall that began at 5:43 am local time. Wind speeds reached 80 km/hour during the thundersquall. The storm reduced visibility to just 500 meters.
Lightning was another danger of this storm. Between the hours of 21:00 UTC on 8 May 2017 and 9:00 UTC on 9 May 2017, Earth Networks detected 40,052 flashes of total lightning in the area. The video below shows the path of lightning as it moved eastward across the state.
The purple strikes in the video above represent in-cloud lightning flashes. The yellow strikes represent cloud-to-ground lightning flashes. Together, these two types of flashes make up total lightning. While cloud-to-ground lightning strikes are responsible for nearly all lightning fatalities, in-cloud lightning is actually more common. We use in-cloud lightning at Earth Networks to help generate advanced severe weather warnings.
Unfortunately, the storm proved deadly for many people in the area. The timing of the storm put workers and schoolchildren in harm’s way during their morning commute. When the storm was over, a total of 15 people lost their lives. Later in the day, Principal Secretary of the Disaster Management Department, Pratyaya Amrit confirmed the deaths. Two people each died in Aurangabad, Lakhisarai, Madhubani and Begusarai districts. One person each died in Patna, Nalanda, Purnia, Darbhanga, Supaul, Araria and Munger.
Fallings trees claimed five victims, wall collapses claimed two victims and lightning killed the remaining eight victims. After the announcement, Amrit issued express instruction to district magistrates to release Rs 4 lakh each as ex-gratia to the next of kin of the deceased under the calamity relief fun.
Unfortunately, severe weather is a public safety concern that can be quick and deadly. The best way for government officials and emergencies management teams to combat this danger is to be prepared and reduce lead times and down times.
Transportation Operations Disrupted
The storm’s high winds proved a large problem for Bihar’s transportation infrastructure and operations. The winds destroyed an important bridge in Danapur. Locals used the bridge to pass between north Bihar and Patna. The storm’s winds caused a portion of the pontoon bridge to float away, affecting vehicular traffic.
The wind and reduced visibility combined to delay flights. As mentioned above, the thunderstorms heavy rains and lightning reduced visibility to just 500 meters. Since the standard visibility for air operations at Patna airport is 1800 meters, this resulted in delays. These delays included morning flights of GoAir and IndiGo from New Delhi to Patna. As the storm approached Bihar from the west, the Met issued a temporary aerodrome weather warning. This warning prevented flight operations until around 7:15 am local time on Tuesday.
Another form of transportation that the storm disrupted was rail. The thunderstorm disrupted the movement of trains in some parts of Bihar. These delays, however, were not a visibility issue. Instead, rail operations faced problems when the wind dropped debris on the track.
Other damage includes damaged electric poles, overhead wires, advertising hoardings, trees, police barricades and temporary shelters.
The storm not only disrupted transportation operations but electric operations as well. The storm snapped conductors around Patna and cut out power to most of the state. The Patna Electricity Supply Undertaking (Pesu), which supplies power to Patna, reported the difficulties. Pesu general manager Dilip Kumar told the Hindustan Times, “Of the 175 feeders in Patna, we were able to restore 167 by 8:00 am (local time). Most of these feeders were affected following felling of trees and their branches on them at many places.”
He reported that areas with major damage included the Garikhana canal, Chajjubagh, and veterinary college areas.
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