What is Cloudburst?

June 25, 2024

Recently, a cloudburst triggered several landslips and a flood-like situation in Itanagar.

About Cloudburst:

  • It is a localised but intense rainfall While it can also occur in plains, the phenomenon is most common in hilly regions.
  • A cloudburst has a very specific definition: Rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10 km area is classified as a cloudburst event.
  • Cloudbursts are not uncommon events, particularly during the monsoon months.
  • Most of these happen in the Himalayan states where the local topology, wind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.
  • How does it occur?
    • It is found that during a cloudburst, the relative humidity and cloud cover will be at the maximum level with low temperature and slow winds because of this situation a high amount of clouds may get condensed at a very rapid rate and result in a cloudburst.
    • As temperatures increase the atmosphere can hold more and more moisture and this moisture comes down as a short very intense rainfall for a short duration.
  • Forecasting of Cloudbursts: The India Meteorological Department forecasts rainfall events well in advance, but it does not predict the quantum of rainfall — in fact, no meteorological agency does.