Southwest monsoon retreat brings relief to parts of waterlogged India

Maura Kelly
·3 min read

After months of flooding, deadly lightning strikes and numerous landslides, residents across India and the surrounding region may be eagerly awaiting the retreat of the Southwest monsoon. However, relief from the wet season will come sooner for some than others.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) announced that the withdrawal of the monsoon had officially begun in Rajasthan in northwestern India on Monday. This is occurring almost 10 days behind schedule as the Southwest monsoon typically begins its withdrawal by the middle of September, according to the IMD.

Warm, moist air will continue to push into portions of southern India through the end of the week, meaning showers and thunderstorms are not quite ready to release their grip on this portion of the country. However, these storms will be lighter and less frequent compared to the middle of the monsoon season.

At the same time, persistent northwesterly winds will continue to usher in dry air across much of the northern tier of India.

In addition to showers and thunderstorms in parts of southern India, some heavier downpours are set to target portions of eastern India as an area of low pressure tries to develop near the coast.

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Areas most at risk for heavier downpours through the weekend will be portions of Andra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha, Chattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal.

Areas of flash flooding and an increased risk for mudslides will be possible in these areas as additional rainfall amounts of 50-100 mm (2-4 inches) can fall through Saturday.

An AccuWeather Local StormMax™ of 150 mm (6 inches) will be possible in areas that receive multiple rounds of heavy rain.

Through the end of next week, drier air is forecast to spread into parts of central India as the Southwest monsoon continues to retreat.

The Southwest monsoon arrived across Sri Lanka and southern India with the start of June this year and gradually spread to the northwest across India, near to slightly faster than normal.

From June 1 to Sept. 27, most of India reported 400-800 mm (16-32 inches) of rainfall. Across northeastern India and along the western coast, rainfall totals climbed above 1,600 mm (63 inches), according to the IMD).

Mumbai, India's largest city, flooded numerous times this monsoon season, which caused streets to turn into rivers, mudslides and widespread travel disruptions.

Mumbai reported a remarkable 1,199 mm (47.22 inches) of rainfall in August and reported 382 mm (15.03 inches) in September. The city typically reports 482 mm (18.99 inches) and 301 mm (11.86 inches) of rain in August and September, respectively.

People walk through a water-logged street after heavy rain in Mumbai, India, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020. India's monsoon season runs from June to September.(AP Photo/Rajanish Kakade)

Just three weeks ago, a mudslide killed over a dozen people and displaced hundreds in Gumthang, located in the Sindhupalchok district of northern Nepal. The country located to the north of India faced frequent rounds of torrential rainfall since June.

In addition to heavy rainfall, thunderstorms that produced dangerous lightning killed hundreds this monsoon season. Over 150 people were killed in the state of Bihar in northern India during a two-week span in late June and early July.

While residents face flooding, landslides and frequent lightning strikes from June to September, the monsoon season helps to bring some relief from the heat and poor air quality that is typical across the country. Heavy rainfall also aids agriculture and replenishes the country's water supply.

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