SRINAGAR: In the first six days of September leading to the devastating floods, the south and central Kashmir received abnormally massive rainfall due to a rare climatic occurrence, and the state government was informed about it almost three days before Srinagar was submerged.
The record maintained by the Meteorological Centre here shows that the rain received from September 1 to 6 (flood hit Srinagar on September 6, 7) at Anantnag, Pahalgam, Kokernag and Qazigund in south Kashmir, and Srinagar district in central Kashmir, was exponentially higher than the normal.
As per the records, Anantnag received 490 mm of rain as compared to the 10.3 mm witnessed during the period normally; Pahalgam received 230 mm against the normal of 12.3mm; Kokernag witnessed 426.3 mm of rain against 9.8 mm normal; Qazigund had 561.3 mm rain against the normal of 6.2mm; and Srinagar received 157.7 mm rain against the normal of 6.5mm.
Statistically, it implies that the rainfall received during the period in Anantnag, Pahalgam, Kokernag, Qazigund, and Srinagar was more than the normal by 98 percent, 95 percent, 98 percent, 99 percent, and 96 percent, respectively.
In Srinagar, the rain received during the period was more than the highest-ever received in a month. In September 1992, the district had received 116.3 mm of rain—the all time high mentioned in the Meteorological Centre records accessed by Kashmir Reader.
The records, however, don’t mention any cloudburst or flashfloods occurring anywhere in the Valley during the period.
The extreme weather, as per the officials in the local Meteorological centre, was result of the “very rare combined effect of the Western Disturbance and moisture feeding from the Arabian Sea.”
Indeed, sources in the administration told Kashmir Reader that the government was well-informed about the approaching heavy rainfall on September 3 in the meeting held to assess the situation.
“Divisional Commissioner Kashmir called a meeting of officers including the Director of the Meteorological Centre. In the meeting, the Divisional Commissioner was informed by the Director about the rare climatic occurrence gripping the region. With almost pinpoint accuracy, he (Director) even informed them about the likelihood of very heavy rainfall till 6 pm Saturday (September 6),” the sources said.
“Accordingly, the Divisional Commissioner instructed the officials to be ready for any eventuality,” they added. [When contacted by Kashmir Reader on Wednesday, the Divisional Commissioner, Rohit Kansal, refused to speak on the issue]
Following the meeting, the sources revealed, the government also received an advisory from the Meteorological Centre warning about the approaching extreme weather.
The advisory read: “A Western Disturbance over J&K and its interaction with monsoon currents over North West India is likely to affect the state from today (Wednesday, September 3) to September 6 (Saturday) with occasional gaps.”
“Under the influence of this weather system, moderate to heavy rain /thundershower and snowfall over higher reaches will occur at most places in Kashmir & Jammu divisions and at a few places in Ladakh region particularly along Srinagar-Jammu, Srinagar-Leh, and Leh-Manali Road etc. Some places may receive heavy to very heavy rain/shower during this period. These weather conditions may trigger landslide and flash floods in vulnerable areas of the state,” it said.
Immediately after the advisory, the weather had turned more extreme in all regions along the track of Jhelum from south Kashmir to Srinagar.
On September 4, Anantnag and Pahalgam received the highest rainfall in any 24-hour period between September 1 and 6: the regions had 180 mm and 58.6 mm of rain, which shall not have been more than 1.8mm and 2.7mm, respectively.
And on the following day (September 5), Kokernag, Qazigund, and Srinagar received their maximum rainfall: in the 24-hour period Kokernag received 149.5 mm, Qazigund 206 mm, and Srinagar 52.4 mm of rain. The average normal for the regions on the day is 3.4mm, 0.7mm, and 0.4 mm, respectively.
However, the state government has been feigning ignorance about the causes that led to the flood.
In a press conference on Monday, Secretary Flood Control Department, Pawan Kotwal, said the state “doesn’t know exactly what caused the sudden rise in water level in Jhelum”.
“We were very closely monitoring the flood and weather situation till September 5 and there was no indication of any major floods in Srinagar city. But something happened between September 6 and 7 which raised the water level in major Jhelum tributaries causing the floods in the city,” he said.
“There is evidence that some flash floods occurred in some parts of Valley between September 6 and 7 that raised water level in major water tributaries and subsequently in the Jhelum,” Kotwal added.