With PM Narendra Modi having led the nation in grieving over the loss of 68 lives due to lightning across the three states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh on Sunday, the 'thunderous' home-truth for Odisha is it tops the country in getting hit by lightning strikes in the year 2020-21.
According to the second annual lightning report 2021, thunderbolt strikes on Odisha has increased by around 37 per cent during the year 2020-21. From a total of around 14.8 lakh strikes in 2019-20, the bolt count crossed the 20 lakh mark (20.432 lakh) in 2020-21. The ominous fact is over 40 per cent of strikes are cloud to ground in Odisha - which is the highest in the country along with Gujarat.
Story Of 'Lightning' Success
Despite an increase in the cloud to ground lightning strikes by over 30 per cent, the success story for Odisha is the toll in the State due to the thunderbolts is on the downslope. When a total of 207 deaths had taken place in the State in 2019-20, the toll dropped to 156 in 2020-21.
As per the Annual Lightning Report 2020-21, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are the only two states in the country that have pruned the lightning deaths by a whopping 70 per cent between 2016 -2020. Odisha seems to be on the track in making possible the national target of bringing down the number of lightning deaths to around 1200 by 2022.
Note Of Caution For Odisha
However, cautioning the State, the report observed that states like Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, need to take cognizance of the fact that a very high rise in lightning strikes, up to 331 per cent, is measured in Punjab, Bihar (168%), Haryana (164%), Puducherry (117%), Himachal Pradesh (105%) and West Bengal (100%) in the year 2020-21.
A glance at the cloud to ground lightning strike map released by the Indian Institute of Tropical Metrology (IITM) details the devil.
The districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, Keonjhar, Jajpur, Dhenkanal, Angul, Deogarh and Sundargarh were hit by a high of over 4000 cloud to ground strikes per 400 square km area in 2020-21.
In contrast, the districts of Khordha, including Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Bhadrak, Ganjam Nayagarh, Boudh, Sonepur and Bargarh recorded nearly 3000 clouds to ground strikes per 400 sq km area.
The least lightning prone districts in the State are Malkangiri, Koraput and Nabarangpur, where the cloud-ground strike has been around 500-700 per 400 sq km area.
The map released by IITM will help the State administration in proper disaster management to avert lightning deaths in the districts prone to thunderbolts.
A look at the data over the years reveal that majority of cloud to ground lightning strike were in the months of May to September. But in years 2019-20, October witnessed over 1.9 lakh lightning flashes - 3rd highest after June and May.
Though June recorded the highest lightning count in the State, the proportion of cloud to ground strikes had been highest in October (48% of total), September (47%), August (46%) and June (42%).
The above figures suggest that despite recording a lower thunderbolt count, the months of October, September and August are deadlier as the cloud to ground strikes are high during the period.
Towns Under Thunder
As per a research study by IMD, the following towns in Odisha are prone to lightning strikes. These cities take the maximum hit in the State. Details are below.
- Bariparda tops the State with lightning strikes for around 84.4 days in a year.
- Bhubneshwar finishes second with 77.5 Days
- Jharsuguda -- 69.6 days per year
- Gopalpur -- 52 days
- Cuttack ---- 28.6 days
- Titlagarh --- 27.2 days
- Sambalpur --- 17 days
- Puri ---- 16.6 days
- Bolangir ---- 15.8 days
- Brahmapur ---15.0 days
- Koraput ---- lowest --- 1.8 days
A look at the month-wise frequency shows that when Mayurbhanj records most in May, June, August and September, the Capital City witnessed the highest strikes in September, August and June.