Planning n Mitigation | VOL. 15, ISSUE 93, November-December 2015

The Science Behind the Tamil Nadu Floods

The Indian state of Tamil Nadu experienced a series of floods this winter. The city of Chennai was flooded between November 13 and 17 and on December 1, 2015 which persisted well into the second week of December. District after district was inundated—Kanchipuram on December 5; Tirunelveli on December 7; and Thanjavur, Thiruvarur and Nagapattinam on December 8. Cuddalore city and the district remained flooded till December 10. More than 500 people died and over 18 lakh people were displaced. Damages and losses have been estimated of the order of 50000 crore (US$7 billion) to 100000 crore (US$15 billion). These floods are by far the costliest natural disaster that the world has seen in 2015. Northeast monsoon The period October to December is the Northeast (NE) monsoon season over peninsular India—the major period of rainfall activity over the region, particularly in the eastern half comprising of the meteorological subdivisions of coastal Andhra Pradesh, Rayalaseema and Tamil Nadu-Puducherry. For Tamil Nadu this is the primary rainy season accounting for about 48 per cent of the annual rainfall. Coastal districts of the State get nearly 60 per cent of the annual rainfall and the interior districts get about 40-50 per cent of the annual rainfall. As per the IMD the climatological onset date of NE monsoon over south India is October 20. During this period (later part...

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