A thunderstorm twice as high as Mount Everest

On Sunday morning, Mumbai was shaken by a monstrous thunderstorm that dumped 23.5 centimetres on rain over the city in just four hours. The rain fell from a cloud system that was 18 kilometres tall – that is 60,000 feet, which makes it more than twice as tall as Everest, the loftiest peak on our planet.

This is not the first time that Mumbai has received such high rainfall. In 2005, the city was flooded by 94.4 cm of rain in a single day. Last week, on Friday, it received 25 cm of rain but Sunday’s spell was different as it covered the whole city in a matter of hours. Sunday’s thunderstorm was the fifth such one in July.  Sunday’s storm was also different as the sheer vertical height of the clouds is rarely ever seen. Having dropped a lot of rain over Mumbai, it moved on to the South Gujarat coast.

Extreme weather season

It seems to be the season for extreme weather. Mando village in the mountainous Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand also saw a cloudburst. A cloudburst is short spell of very heavy rainfall in a small area.

It is not just India which is seeing these extreme events. Floods in Germany and Belgium have destroyed many villages, towns and bridges. Over a hundred people are feared dead and many missing. These are some of the worst floods the region has ever seen. They were caused by heavy rain that caused rivers to burst their banks. Other affected countries include Switzerland and Netherlands.

Meanwhile, as northern Europe drowned, the United States (US) was burning.  Record heat on the Pacific coast of North America has been affecting both the US and Canada since June. Hot, dry conditions have sparked over 70 wildfires in the western US. The biggest of these is the Bootleg Fire, north of California in Oregon, which has already covered an area of 1200 square kilometres. This makes it as large as Los Angeles, one of the biggest cities in the US. Wildfires have become a huge issue in the US during summer and record-size fires have been seen in the last few years.

fire

Scientists are linking these extreme weather events to climate change. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is the first global leader to say that events like these should speed up our collective response to fix climate change. Let us hope that other leaders and countries follow suit and take action.