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What is a Cloudburst? - UPSC Current Affairs

Aug 24, 2022


Today’s edition of our Current Affairs, will comprise a discussion on What is a Cloudburst? Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: Cloudburst, IMD, Climate Change   

For Mains: Disaster Management, Cloudburst, IMD, Climate Change    

Probable Question

What is a cloudburst? Comment on India’s vulnerability and preparedness for such disasters. 


Recently, over 20 people have been killed in the destruction caused by cloudbursts and flash floods in different parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. 

About Cloudbursts

  • A cloudburst is a localized but intense rainfall activity. 
  • Short spells of very heavy rainfall over a small geographical area can cause widespread destruction.
  • It mainly happens in hilly regions where this phenomenon is the most common.
  • Rainfall of 10 cm or more in an hour over a roughly 10 km x 10 km area is classified as a cloudburst event. 

Cloudburst Effect

  • Cloudbursts are responsible for flash flood creations.
  • It affects the area such as floods, landslides, and land yielding.
  • Floods result in overfull of water in houses.
  • Blocking the passage of rivers because of temporary loss and accumulation of debris in the reservoir, resulting in collapse.

Read yesterday’s edition of Current Affairs on Bilkis Bano Case Convicts and the Remission Laws, in case you missed reading it.

Cloudbursts Event is Common or Uncommon

  • Cloudbursts are not uncommon events, particularly during the monsoon months. 
  • Most of these happen in the Himalayan states.
  • In Himalayan states the local topology, wind systems, and temperature gradients between the lower and upper atmosphere facilitate the occurrence of such events.

Can Cloudbursts be Forecast?

  • The India Meteorological Department forecasts rainfall events well in advance, but it does not predict the quantum of rainfall.
  • The forecasts can be about light, heavy, or very heavy rainfall.
  • But weather scientists do not have the capability to predict exactly how much rain is likely to fall at any given place.
  • Forecasts are for a relatively large geographical area, usually a region, a state, a meteorological sub-division, or at best a district. 
  • As they zoom in over smaller areas, the forecasts get more and more uncertain. 
  • Theoretically, it is not impossible to forecast rainfall over a very small area as well.
  • It requires a very dense network of weather instruments, and computing capabilities that seem unfeasible with current technologies.
  • As a result, specific cloudburst events cannot be forecast. 
  • No forecast ever mentions a possibility of a cloudburst but there are warnings for heavy to very heavy rainfall events.

Increment of Cloudburst Incidents 

  • According to IMD, there is no long-term trend that suggests that cloudbursts are rising. 
  • Incidents of extreme rainfall and extreme weather events are increasing not just in India but across the world. 
  • While the overall amount of rainfall in India has not changed substantially, an increasing proportion of rainfall is happening in a short span of time.
  • Changing patterns of rainfall and other climate extremities suggest that cloudburst events might also be on rise due to climate change.

Mitigation of Impacts of Cloudburst 

  • Following proper building codes and rules of construction.
  • Controlling illegal construction and encroachments on fragile mountains and high ranges in fragile topography. 
  • Scientific classification or zoning of the regions which are vulnerable to the disasters caused by cloudburst. 
  • Awareness of the masses and disaster preparedness, as Odisha successfully trained her residents to fight with cyclones.
  • Disaster Management and preparedness at all the levels of government and administration.

Source: Indian Express 


Also watch a related video on Cyclone's Risk in India for UPSC Preparation by Himanshu Sharma Sir:


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