Odisha Receives 9 Lakh Lightning Strikes In 4 Months, Highest In India

Bhubaneswar: A latest report published by the Climate Resilient Observing Systems Promotion Council (CROSPC), a research body of India Meteorological Department (IMD) has revealed that Odisha received more than 9 lakh lightning strikes between April 1 and July 31 this year.

129 persons died due to lightning strikes in Odisha during the same period which is the third highest in India. Uttar Pradesh tops the country in number of lightning deaths with 224 people losing their lives between April 1 and July 31.

The report stated that during cyclone Fani, Odisha received more than one lakh intense lightning strikes (on 03-04 May 2019). More than 1.2 million people were evacuated to cyclone shelters. The Lightning risk prepared Odisha had zero casualty mainly due to all 891 cyclone shelters were fitted with Lightning Arresters.

Col (retired) Sanjay Srivastava, chairman of the council, said that Odisha is vulnerable to these strikes because of the geographical location of the State.

“The large number of coastal waves apart from cyclones brings in lightning strikes. The northern belt of Odisha comprising Mayurbhanj and Sundergarh lies in the plateau region. This region is the originator of electrostatic and thermodynamic waves in the country,” he said.

Col Srivastava added that Odisha has multi-sectoral programmes for addressing these disasters besides having a very good capacity building programme. This starts much in advance before the monsoons hit the State.

“Odisha’s campaigns start after March and these are very aggressive and holistic. Thirdly, all of Odisha’s cyclone shelters have lightning arresters which prevents loss of lives,” he added.

The Lightning arresters /conductors are of paramount importance without which no life can be saved . Due to this very reason, in intense lightning zone of cyclone Fani in Odisha, there was zero casualty. Uttar Pradesh lacked same and hence incurred 10 deaths from weak dissipating bolt strikes, the CROSPC report stated.

The Lightning Resilient India Campaign has been using various products from IMD, IITM, NRSC ISRO, WMO and foreign satellites and mobile app based technologies to monitor and disseminate Dangerous Thunderstorms and Lightning alerts to enhance its outreach and sanitise Govt & community.

While Odisha recorded the highest number of lightning strikes in the country, Jammu and Kashmir recorded the least with about 20,000 strikes. The report has also revealed that Uttar Pradesh recorded double the number of deaths that Odisha between April and July, even though it was hit by only one-third of the total lightning strikes that hit Odisha.

Tamil Nadu saw the least number of deaths due to lightning strikes in the corresponding period. According to the report, Mid-Monsoon 2019 Lightning, Odisha was followed by Maharashtra with 6.26 lakh strikes and Karnataka with 6.21 lakh.

The report, prepared as part of a three-year study period under Lightning Resilient India campaign, used date from IMD’s lightning forecasts, Indian Institute of Tropical Management’s lightning network data, Indian Space Research Organsiation (Isro), National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC) and from ground impact reports.

The Met department started lightning forecast from April 1 this year by integrating inputs from Indian Air Force sensors, IITM Pune’s sensors network and INSAT-3D. This is the first ever scientific mapping of lightning strikes that has been done in the country.

“The recent observations confirms that the Chotanagpur plateau (confluence of Jharkhand, Odisha and West Bengal) inhabited by tribal is the most Lightning prone area. There are severe and fast extinction of few tribal communities like Birhor, Pahadiya, Ho, Hmar who needs to be given lightning protection to prevent their extinction,” the report stated.

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