A Year of Disasters in India in 2018

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The wide range of disasters that have occurred this year have impacted most of the country. Not a month has gone by without a disaster.  Of these, only a few really captured the public attention. Yet, looking at the spectrum as a whole reveals some critical patterns and questions.

Combining analysis of data from the government, EmDat, media reports, and our understanding of disaster situations on the ground, there are four key issues that emerge. These address some of the major patterns in the year gone but also point to risks for the year ahead.

  • Too much and too little water
    14 depressions, 4 cyclones, devastating floods across half the country, yet a deficient southwest and northeast monsoon.  Eight States have already declared drought between October – December 2018.
  • Changing rainfall patterns
    There has been skewed distribution in rainfall. Periods are shifting, peak days are rising and the number of actual wet days have decreased. That is one of the reasons why we are seeing floods and droughts in parallel.
  • Growing complexity
    All disasters are complex. This year saw multiple causes of damage in floods (extreme rainfall, landslides and dams). Irretrievably damaged ecosystems will see long-term losses that far outweigh the damages calculated.
  • Creeping or unseen
    Multiple disasters passed by ignored (think Nagaland floods or Cyclone Daye as examples). Others are intensifying under the radar. Groundwater is rapidly depleting. Heat and air pollution are taking unseen polls.

(Based on available reports and provisional data. Representative of major incidents and is not exhaustive)

January
Cold wave in Delhi

February
Hailstorm in Maharashtra, UP, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Telangana

March
Forest fire in Tamil Nadu
Drought declared across nine districts of Kerala

April
Hailstorms in Meghalaya, Bihar, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP
Thunderstorms and Lightning in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, UP and Rajasthan
Drought in Maharashtra
Heatwave in Maharashtra

May
Dust storm in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh
Lightning Strikes in Bihar, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Tripura
Heatwave in Rajasthan
Flash flood in Tripura
Floods in Karnataka

June
Heatwave in Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab
Floods in Assam, Maharashtra, Gujarat
Storm in Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura, Assam, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh& West Bengal
Lightning strikes and thunderstorms in Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, Maharashtra, Mizoram and Rajasthan

July
Floods in Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra and Odisha

August
Floods in Kerala, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Nagaland, Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Odisha, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh and J&K
Flash floods in Kerala, West Bengal, Odisha, Assam, Nagaland, Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra

September
Cyclone Daye hits Odisha and West Bengal
Floods (and landslides) in J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh

October
Cyclone Titli hits Odisha

November
Cyclone Gaja hits Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
Unseasonal snowstorm hits Kashmir
Lightning strikes in Kashmir

December
Cyclone Phethai hits Andhra Pradesh

Oct-Dec
Drought declared in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Odisha and Maharashtra