Lightning struck Odisha over 63000 times this weekend; 12 dead
The India Meteorology Department (IMD) has issued a warning of continued extreme weather conditions in Odisha until September 7. This surge in lightning activity is attributed to the collision of cold and warm air masses as the monsoon returns to normalcy after a prolonged break.
Over the weekend, Odisha experienced a staggering 63,000 lightning strikes, resulting in 12 fatalities and 14 injuries, according to the special relief commissioner (SRC), Satyabrata Sahu. On Sunday, the state recorded 3,240 lightning strikes by afternoon. However, no casualties were reported.The India Meteorology Department (IMD) has issued a warning of continued extreme weather conditions in Odisha until September 7, suggesting that the threat of lightning strikes may persist. Over the past 11 years, lightning strikes have claimed the lives of 3,790 individuals in Odisha.
The Odisha State Disaster Management Authority (OSDMA) reported that on Saturday, cloud-to-cloud lightning numbered 36,597, while cloud-to-ground strikes reached 25,753 by 5.30 p.m.
In 2018, Odisha signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the US-based company Earth Networks to receive early lightning warnings through their lightning detection centers. These alerts are then disseminated through various channels.
Furthermore, a cyclonic circulation in the Bay of Bengal is expected to intensify into a low-pressure area within the next 48 hours, leading to widespread rainfall throughout Odisha. The IMD bulletin predicts an escalation in rainfall intensity later in the week, with a "yellow warning" for heavy rainfall issued for most districts until September 7.
Among the casualties from Saturday's lightning strikes, four were from Khurda district, two from Balangir, and one each from Angul, Boudh, Dhenkanal, Gajapati, Jagatsinghpur, and Puri, as reported by the SRC. Additionally, eight cattle were killed by lightning in Gajapati and Kandhamal districts. The bereaved families will receive an ex gratia payment of Rs 4 lakh each.
Weather experts explain that these unusual and extreme lightning events are a consequence of the monsoon returning to normal after an extended hiatus. The collision of cold and warm air masses creates ideal conditions for such unprecedented lightning occurrences.