Tuesday, September 28 2021

Dive In

The systematic disconnection and destruction of the CCTV cameras also confirms the existence of a pre-planned and premeditated conspiracy to disturb law and order in the city. This is also evident from the fact that innumerable rioters ruthlessly descended with sticks, dandas, bats, etc upon a hopelessly outnumbered cohort of police officials.

That’s the Delhi High Court taking a tough line in a bail hearing for a protester accused of participating in last year’s Delhi violence. In this case, the accused was carrying a sword in a confrontation between anti-CAA protesters and the police that resulted in fatal injuries to a constable. Point to consider: Earlier this month, the same judge granted bail to five accused, saying “the sole act of protesting” cannot be used as “a weapon to justify the incarceration” of those exercising this right.

Big Story

WTF is going on with the Indian monsoon?

The TLDR: The monsoon this year has been full of unpleasant surprises—long, dry spells interrupted by intense deluges. And it has defied all meteorological predictions. The overall numbers for the year, however, look normal—perhaps, deceptively so. 


A strange stop-start-pour pattern

The overall numbers: As of today, the country has received 850.3 mm of rain—which is 2% short of normal. But the total disguises a far-from-normal pattern of rainfall—which suggests climate change predictions are already coming true. 


Neither slow nor steady: The entire country has witnessed a topsy-turvy pattern over the monsoon months. Long Period Average (LPA) is the average rainfall received during a particular month between 1961 and 2010—and is the benchmark against which we decide if the amount of rainfall is “normal” or not. And here’s how we fared:


  • June brought in lots of rain—especially in the South, thanks to Cyclone Yaas. And average rainfall across the country was up 9.6%. 
  • Then we had a dry spell of 23 days. And the cumulative rainfall for July was 6.8% below normal. 
  • In fact, the average rainfall was below normal from July and all through September 21. It was minus-4% in the Northwest, and minus-13% in East and Northeast India.
  • But during August, there were extreme rain events in parts of Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, and Jharkhand—even while the rest of the country was mostly dry.
  • Then the monsoon came back with a vengeance in September. So far, we have recorded 205.4 mm rain just this month—which marks a surplus of 29.3%.


The quote to note: President of Skymet—a private weather monitoring company—sums up why even forecasters were confused:


“Monsoon rains have been a bumpy ride this year and aren’t on expected lines. June was a surplus and even the deviation in July was as expected, with rainfall on the lower side. The shock came in August—which was expected to do better with 99% of average rainfall, but for most of the month, ‘break’ conditions remained. The rainfall for August has been short by around 25-26 per cent, which will be a record.”


Monsoon whiplash: is painfully evident in the regional numbers:


  • The Northwest—i.e. states like Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir—witnessed severe monsoon whiplash. They went from receiving 226% of the LPA in June to 85% in mid-July.
  • The wettest parts of the country—Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Tripura—recorded below average rainfall for 17 consecutive weeks.
  • Kerala experienced an 11-week dry spell from June 23 to September 1.


The Delhi example: is the most extreme and telling. The city went from minus-47% in June to plus-140%, back to minus-13% in August, and way up to plus-193% as of September 11. And it recorded seven days of “heavy rain”—i.e. above 64.4 mm—which set a new record. Earlier this month, parts of the city recorded between 81.3 mm and 98 mm of rain over just three hours.


An unmistakable shift in geography


In today’s edition

Headlines That Matter

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A list of intriguing things

  • Upcycled sawdust can make 3D-printed objects look like traditional wood
  • Colourised footage of the last known Tasmanian tiger

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