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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Severe thunderstorm kills 137 and leaves over a million homeless in eastern India, April 13, 2010

Tornado and associated severe weather leave 1 million homeless in India

by Jeff Masters, Wunderblog, April 13, 2010

The U.S. has the world's most violent and numerous tornadoes, but second place goes to Bangladesh and eastern India. There, warm moist air from the Bay of Bengal often encounters cold, dry air from the Himalayas, setting up the instability needed to support severe thunderstorms. On Tuesday, April 13, 2010, a very unstable airmass (CAPE values > 3000) with strong westerly wind shear set up over eastern India, providing the classic set-up for supercell thunderstorms. Radar loops from the Kolkatta radar that day show a severe thunderstorm formed over extreme northeast India, near the Bangladesh border, and moved southeast into Bangladesh. The thunderstorm appeared to form a "bow echo," a configuration that often generates strong winds in excess of hurricane force near the bowed-out portion of the radar echo. Winds of 75 mph affected a large area of densely populated land, killing 137, severely damaging or destroying 200,000 homes, and leaving 1 million homeless. A weak tornado may have accompanied the storm. This may be the greatest number of people ever left homeless by a severe thunderstorm in world history.

Radar image from the Kolkatta Regional Meteorological Centre of the Indian Meteorological Department, showing the severe thunderstorm that killed 137 people and left 1 million homeless. Thanks go to Steve Nesbitt of UIUC for saving this image.


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