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Tornadoes in India



  Apr 15, 2024

Tornadoes in India



Tornadoes in India have become increasingly frequent, causing destruction in recent years. While they are more common in the eastern states like West Bengal, Odisha, and Jharkhand during the pre-monsoon period, there is evidence that some tornadoes have also formed in northwest India. The recent deadly tornado that struck the Mainaguri area of Jalpaiguri district in West Bengal highlights this trend.

Here are some key points about tornadoes in India:

Formation and Characteristics:


⇒ A tornado is a land-based vertical column of violently rotating air that forms from a thunderstorm and extends to the ground.

⇒ It can have wind speeds ranging from 105 to 322 kilometers per hour.

⇒ Tornadoes can be stationary or move at speeds of around 97 km/hr.

⇒ They are relatively rare in India but have been reported in both the eastern and northwest regions.

Research Findings:


⇒ A 2016 research paper by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) documented tornado records in eastern India.

⇒ The highest number of tornadoes was reported in a 1981 paper, which documented 51 possible tornadoes across Bengal, out of which 18 resulted in 10 or more fatalities.

⇒ Some tornadoes occurred during 1838-1963and others during 1968-81.

⇒ In northwest India, 15 tornadoes were recorded during 1903-2012, with 12 of them occurring between 1976 and 2010.

Monitoring and Factors:

⇒ Tornadoes are most common in the United States, Argentina, and Bangladesh.


⇒ In the US, meteorologists at the National Weather Service (NWS) monitor tornadoes using data from satellites and radars.

⇒ However, in India, there is no official monitoring system for tornadoes, although IMD did record the recent West Bengal tornado in its press release.

⇒ Climate scientist Raghu Murtugudde explains that tornadoes result from the collision of warm, moist air with dry, cool air in the presence of a low-pressure system.

⇒ The specific conditions required for tornado formation include warm air, humidity, and rotation.

⇒ While tornadoes in India may not be as strong as those in other regions due to the heterogeneous land and shorter distances they can travel, changing wind patterns over various parts of India, including the eastern region, contribute to their occurrence.

⇒ Other factors include weak background winds during the pre-monsoon season and lower vertical wind speeds that allow tornadoes to persist and grow.

In summary, the combination of warming ocean and land, along with anomalous wind patterns, is contributing to the emergence of tornadoes in India. As these extreme weather events become more frequent, understanding their causes and monitoring systems become crucial for disaster preparedness and mitigation.


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