Even as Odisha's climate in 2021 had been stormy with the State taking a hit by Very Severe Cyclonic Storm (VSCS) Yaas, and had also borne the impacts of Cyclone Gulab and Jawad, IMD's annual report categorised it as the country's number one 'thunder struck' state.
As per IMD's Annual Climate Summary - 2021, when Odisha had reported only 4 deaths due to the cyclonic storms in the year went by, with a massive 213 deaths due to lightning and thunderstorm, the State has topped the country.
Owing to its 'thunderstruck' nature, Odisha comes second in the country after Maharashtra to record maximum human casualties due to natural disasters. The State had recorded a total of 223 deaths from natural disasters, whereas Maharashtra with 350 deaths has topped the country in deaths due to natural disasters in 2021.
The IMD report has stated that while 213 lives were lost in Odisha due to thunderstorms and lightning, 4 deaths had been reported owing to cyclonic storms and 3 fatalities due to cold waves. The State didn't report any mortalities owing to floods in 2021.
Lightning Top Killer In Country
The country saw the loss of 787 lives due to this extreme weather event in 2021. And Odisha alone had accounted for a whopping 27 percent of the mortalities.
Floods, heavy rains and landslides have been the second most killer in the country last year. The nation recorded a toll of 759. But no death occurred in Odisha.
The nation had borne the brunt of five cyclones in the year 2021, but the number of human toll had been 172. Four deaths were reported in Odisha due to cyclonic storms in 2021. While cyclone Yaas took 3 lives, a single death had been recorded in cyclone Gulab, though it had a landfall in Andhra Pradesh.
Except for Jharsuguda, almost all the districts had recorded this extreme weather event last year. The districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, Deogarh and Sundargarh had witnessed maximum strikes in 2021. These districts were followed by Khordha, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Ganjam Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Bargarh.
Among the least lightning prone districts in the State like Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur, Nabarangpur didn't record any extreme lightning and thunderstorm event.
The Lightning Months
A look at the data over the years reveals that a majority of cloud to ground lightning strikes were in the months of May to September in Odisha. But the State had recorded the extreme weather event in January 2021 that saw the loss of lives.
Though Odisha had recorded a hotter Feb and March in 2021, both the months last year had not recorded any lightning or thunderstorms.
But the majority of the extreme weather events were recorded during the months of Apr - Sept in 2021. In 2019, maximum lightning strikes were recorded in October. The year 2021 had not recorded a single such extreme weather event in the month of October.
2021 Map of Natural Disasters
Kendrapada and Khordha districts have recorded the extreme weather event of heavy rainfall in 2021. Only in September 2021, the Capital city had recorded the highest ever rainfall in the last 63 years.
In contrast, the districts of Ganjam, Bhadrak, Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar had witnessed the impact of cyclones in 2021. However, it's only Ganjam and Rayagada districts that had recorded the extreme weather event of gale in 2021.