232 lives lost in South India due to extreme weather events in first 9 months of 2023, says report

The south peninsular region witnessed extreme weather events in 143 of the 273 days from 1 January to 30 September 2023.

ByMuhammed Fazil

Published Nov 29, 2023 | 5:20 PMUpdated Nov 29, 2023 | 8:45 PM

232 lives lost in South India due to extreme weather events in first 9 months of 2023, says report

The south peninsular region of India reported its warmest June on record in 2023, according to a report on extreme weather events in India during the first nine months of this year.

Highlighting an urgent need for action to prevent extreme weather events in India, the Centre for Science and Environment — a public interest research and advocacy organisation — and Down To Earth magazine released the report “India 2023: An assessment of extreme weather events”.

The report said that, in India, 235 out of the 273 days from 1 January to 30 September this year witnessed extreme weather events, and the south peninsular region witnessed extreme weather events on 143 days. Kerala witnessed 64 such days, which claimed 56 lives — the highest in South India.

The report also said that Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of days (138) with extreme weather events and Bihar saw the highest number of human deaths at 642, followed by Himachal Pradesh (365 deaths) and Uttar Pradesh (341 deaths).

Himachal Pradesh reported the highest number of damaged houses (15,407) and Punjab reported the highest number of animal deaths (63,649) during the aforementioned period.

Related: ‘India saw extreme weather events almost every day’

Extreme weather events in the South

The report showed that India experienced extreme weather events on around 86 percent of the days from 1 January to 30 September.

Extreme weather events in South India.

Extreme weather events in South India.

“These events claimed 2,923 human lives, affected 1.84 million hectares of crop area, damaged 80,563 houses, and killed over 92,519 animals,” the report said.

According to the report, 2,755 deaths were recorded during the same period in 2022.

The events claimed 232 human lives, damaged 93,077.43 hectares of crop area and 20,035 houses, and killed 1,053 animals in South India.

In this period, Kerala witnessed the highest number of days with extreme weather events and the deaths related to this, with 67 days of extreme weather events and 60 deaths during the analysed period.

In the same period, the highest area of crops affected was in Telangana, with 62,811.43 hectares. The state also witnessed the largest number of animal deaths due to extreme weather conditions: 645.

The most number of houses damaged was in Karnataka: 11, 917.

The south peninsula also recorded its eighth hottest day temperature in January since 1901.

Also read: Why Tamil Nadu should have a functional Heat Action Plan

Occurrence of the events

The India Meteorological Department (IMD), classifies lightning and thunderstorms, heavy to very heavy and extremely heavy rainfall, landslides, floods, coldwaves, heatwaves, cyclones, snowfall, dust and sandstorms, squalls, hailstorms, and gales as extreme weather events.

India experienced lightning and storms on 176 of the 273 days, and they claimed 711 human lives.

In the south, Telangana witnessed the highest number of days with lightning and storms — 21 — which claimed 10 human lives.

India experienced heavy rains, floods, and landslides on 132 days during the period, and they claimed 1,903 human lives. Kerala witnessed 64 such days that claimed 56 lives — the highest in South India.

In the same period, Andhra Pradesh had 22 days with heatwaves, with the country recording a total of 49 days with 201 deaths. South India did not record any deaths due to heatwaves.

Only a total of six cold waves were recorded in the south, with four in Karnataka and two in Telangana, while the country recorded a total of 21 such spells.

According to the report, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) declared that 2023 was on track to be the warmest year on record globally, with a greater-than-99-percent likelihood.

The IMD has reported that India in 2023 saw its warmest-ever August and September in 122 years.

The report said it was “an attempt to build an evidence base on the frequency and expanding geography of extreme weather events in India.”

It added: “This is extremely important as currently fragmented data on extreme weather events is publicly available and fails to provide the overall picture.”