The Silicon Valley of India, Bengaluru, has been listed as one of the places most at risk from urban flooding. A warning regarding the potential for significant rainfall in the city has already been released by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
In this article, we will discuss the reasons behind the high risk of urban flooding in Bengaluru.
From the beginning of May, Bengaluru has experienced a considerable amount of rainfall, which has led to flooding-like situations in certain areas. It is anticipated that the city will exceed the average monthly rainfall for May within the next two days.
These rains have been caused by multiple weather systems, and the potential Cyclone Mocha has further intensified the situation in Bengaluru.
Despite being regarded as the peak pre-Monsoon month, the city is still susceptible to urban flooding. Over the previous 10 days, moderate to heavy rains have occurred on four occasions.
Over the past few days, extensive pre-Monsoon rain and thunderstorms have been observed in various parts of Karnataka, resulting in flooding-like conditions in certain regions.
So far this month, Bengaluru has already received 121.8 mm of rainfall, and the ongoing showers are likely to push the city beyond its monthly average rainfall of 128.7 mm for May in the next two days.
Meteorologists suggest that the current rains are caused by multiple weather systems impacting the entire South Peninsula region. One such system is the probable cyclonic storm ‘Mocha,’ which is currently brewing in the Bay of Bengal and is currently considered a deep depression in the Southeast Bay of Bengal.
Another system affecting the region is a trough or wind discontinuity that extends from Telangana to South Tamil Nadu. This system is a semi-permanent feature during the pre-Monsoon season, and it oscillates from east to west during this period.
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Role of Climate Change
The frequency and intensity of cyclonic storms, which typically form in the Indian Oceans during May, have been impacted by changing climatic conditions. In recent years, the intensity of these storms has increased, and severe to very severe cyclones are becoming more frequent in the Indian Ocean.
Additionally, these storms are rapidly intensifying and retaining their strength even after making landfall. Cyclones Tauktae and Amphan are two examples of such storms.
According to Dr. Roxy Mathew Koll, a Climate Scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, warmer oceans provide a more conducive environment for intensification and for maintaining the strength of the cyclones for longer periods.
Typically, as a cyclone nears the coast, it weakens due to a significant reduction in moisture and heat from the oceans. However, the surface and subsurface temperatures of the Bay of Bengal are anomalously warm by 1-2°C or more, which favors the formation of Cyclone Mocha.
“Bengaluru is currently in the peak of the pre-Monsoon season, and while the trough is the primary contributor to the current rains, a possible cyclonic storm has triggered further pre-Monsoon activity. The brewing storm has led to a convergence of winds, resulting in increased weather activity.
These rains are expected to continue for the next 2-3 days, but they will gradually decrease as the deep depression becomes more marked and moist winds are drawn towards it, taking energy away from the trough,” said G P Sharma, President of Meteorology and Climate Change at Skymet Weather.
In recent years, extreme weather events have become more frequent in India, which has been designated as a hotspot for climate impacts. According to the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Asian urban areas are considered high-risk areas for climate change, extreme weather events, unplanned urbanization, and rapid land-use changes.
Bengaluru has been struggling with urban flooding since extreme weather events have increased due to global warming. In 2022, the city suffered a loss of over Rs. 225 crore due to urban flooding. On September 5, 2022, Bengaluru received 132 mm of rain in 24 hours, accounting for 10% of the monsoon season’s rainfall.
Meteorologists argue that the city has experienced heavy rains in the past, but poor urban planning has prevented water from flowing out, leading to prolonged flooding. With the increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events, this may become more frequent in Indian cities, impacting lives, livelihoods, and GDP.