Uttarakhand havoc not due to cloudburst: Experts

Rather, it were the intense rains in the Kedarnath-Badrinath sector that unleashed the death and destruction.

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Facing criticism that it didn't predict the cloudburst that ravaged Uttarakhand, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said Wednesday that cloudburst was not to blame for the disaster that has killed hundreds.

Rather, it were the intense rains in the Kedarnath-Badrinath sector that unleashed the death and destruction.


"Uttarakhand didn't get hit by a cloudburst. It were the intense rains," Manmohan Singh, director of the meteorological office in Shimla, told IANS.

Explaining the reasons for the deluge in Kedarnath-Badrinath mountains, he said landslides were caused by heavy rains, caused by the clouds from the Bay of Bengal.

A simultaneous tropical storm system generating over the Mediterranean escalated the rains.

"Thus, clouds from both the east and west gathered over the Kedarnath-Badrinath area and caused heavy rains. These triggered landslides and the havoc," he said.

Hundreds have died in the natural calamity since June 15. Thousands of others have been hit, and many are still stranded in remote hills.

According to meteorological terminology, a "cloudburst" occurs when a cloud empties out its water content at speeds of over 10 cm per hour for more than an hour at one place.

When this happens, the clouds are at an altitude of 12-13 km.

According to the Met office in Dehradun, the rainfall figures of June 14-17 in Uttarakhand showed that it was a gradual build-up.

On June 14, Dehradun had a rainfall of only 5 cm and Tehri 3 cm.

On June 15, the figures jumped to 22 cm in Dehradun, at Purola 17 cm, at Devprayag 13 cm, at Uttarkashi 13 cm and at Tehri 12 cm.

However, the next day rainfall was 37 cm in Dehradun, 24 cm in Mukteshwar, 22 cm Haridwar and 21 cm in Uttarkashi.

It was 18 cm in Mukteshwar, 22 cm in Champawat, 28 cm in Haldwani, 17 cm in Nainital and 12 cm in Ranikhet on June 17.

"The pattern of rain shows a sudden rise and heavy rainfall over the four days," an IMD official in Dehradun said.

"It also shows that the heavy rain covered a larger area over the four days, creating a catastrophe at Kedarnath, Badrinath, Joshimath and other nearby areas," the official said.

Moreover, the cloudburst is highly a localised phenomena and a freak disaster. It takes place at the foot of the typically steep hills and it recurs at a particular place, he said.

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna has blamed the IMD for lack of warning on cloudburst.

"The IMD warning was not clear enough. It only said there would heavy rains and snowfall in the upper ridges. We were not warned about any cloudburst," Bahuguna told a news channel.

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