April 20, 2024

Lukmaan IAS

A Blog for IAS Examination

THE JALPAIGURI DISASTER: CAUSES OF TORNADOES IN INDIA

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TAG: GS 3: DISASTER MANAGEMENT

THE CONTEXT: On March 31, 2024, Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal, India, witnessed a devastating tornado that claimed the lives of five individuals and left over a hundred injured.

EXPLANATION:

  • This tragic incident sheds light on the growing occurrence of tornadoes across India and underscores the need to comprehend the underlying factors contributing to their formation.

Tornadoes in India: A Rising Phenomenon

  • Tornado, a small-diameter column of violently rotating air developed within a convective cloud and in contact with the ground.
  • Tornadoes occur most often in association with thunderstorms during the spring and summer in the mid-latitudes of both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.
  • These whirling atmospheric vortices can generate the strongest winds known on Earth: wind speeds in the range of 500 km (300 miles) per hour have been measured in extreme events.
  • When winds of this magnitude strike a populated area, they can cause fantastic destruction and great loss of life, mainly through injuries from flying debris and collapsing structures.
  • Most tornadoes, however, are comparatively weak events that occur in sparsely populated areas and cause minor damage.
  • While tornadoes historically have been rare in India, recent years have witnessed an uptick in their occurrence, posing significant challenges to communities and authorities alike.
  • Unlike the United States, where tornadoes are more prevalent and closely monitored, India lacks official monitoring systems for these extreme weather events.
  • A confluence of climate and environmental factors plays a pivotal role in the genesis of tornadoes.
  • The warming of the Bay of Bengal and land surfaces, coupled with anomalous wind patterns, creates conducive conditions for the development of these violent storms.
  • Collisions between warm, moist air masses and dry, cool air, particularly in the presence of low-pressure systems like troughs, trigger thunderstorms and tornadoes.

Scientific Insights: Understanding Tornado Dynamics

  • According to a renowned climate scientist, the interaction of warm, humid air with cool, dry air sets the stage for tornado formation.
  • Specific atmospheric conditions, such as cyclonic circulations and troughs, contribute to the initiation and intensification of tornadoes.
  • The geographical characteristics of India, including its heterogeneous landscape, typically limit the strength and duration of tornadoes compared to regions like the United States.

Changing Wind Patterns and Environmental Trends

  • Evidence suggests that wind patterns over various regions of India, particularly in the eastern states, are undergoing significant alterations.
  • The warming of ocean and land surfaces, combined with anomalous wind patterns, creates a conducive environment for tornado formation.
  • These changing environmental dynamics provide the necessary conditions for tornado “seeds” to sprout and thrive, leading to increased tornado activity in recent years.

Implications for Disaster Management and Preparedness

  • The emergence of tornadoes as a recurrent phenomenon in India underscores the importance of robust disaster management and preparedness measures.
  • While meteorological agencies like the India Meteorological Department (IMD) provide updates on weather systems, the absence of dedicated tornado monitoring systems necessitates greater vigilance and proactive measures from local authorities and communities.

SOURCE: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/natural-disasters/jalpaiguri-disaster-tornadoes-a-symptom-of-warming-anomalous-wind-patterns-95351

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