Southern Indian coastal States of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Puducherry and Northern Sri Lanka experienced nearly catastrophic floods during mid-November this year. These floods were triggered by heavy rainfall associated with a deep depression formed over Bay of Bengal on 8th November. This was followed by a low-pressure weather system which added more rain to an already saturated soil resulting in major flooding. Chennai, Cuddalore, Kancheepuram and neighboring districts in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh were worst affected, with more than 100 victims in total.
Chennai is a major urban and industrial center in South India with population of about 8.5 million and was severely impacted by this event. While heavy rains are common to this region as part of Northeast monsoon (October-December), this event brought accumulated rainfall in excess of 500mm, with some areas receiving more than 250mm rainfall in just 24 hours. This extreme rainfall over a short duration paralyzed the city with major disruption to critical infrastructure, affecting thousands of families and businesses.
The event highlights the vulnerability of rapidly growing urban centers to flash floods and clearly underscores the need of disaster resilient urban planning.
Indian cities are no stranger to excessive flooding as many areas experienced daily rainfall in excess of 200mm. Mumbai, the financial center of India, 10 years ago experienced close to 1 meter rainfall in parts of the city in one day leading to catastrophic flooding and disruptions.
The current flooding is another reminder that heavy precipitation can flood most locations. You do not need to be adjacent to a water body to be at risk of flooding. And even though this is not the first time that Chennai has experienced such heavy rainfall and flooding, it begs the question: what more is to come?
Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms
Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India