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Cloudbursts: When Clouds Explode!

On June 15, 2013 over a thousand pilgrims visiting Kedarnath, a holy place in Uttarakhand, India, lost their lives. Thousands more went missing. All because of a cloudburst.

A cloudburst near the Kedarnath valley led to massive landslides and flooding.

What is a cloudburst?

Cloudburst is a sudden, heavy rainfall in a small area that leads to violent floods and landslides. Cloudbursts last for a short time but can cause a huge amount of destruction.

How are cloudbursts formed?

  1. Monsoon clouds filled with water droplets move across the plains. Warm air currents keep pushing the clouds
    up not allowing them to shed rain.
  2. More and more water droplets get collected and the clouds get bigger as they move up a mountain or hill. The clouds soon stop moving since there is barely any wind up in the mountains.
  3. The warm air holding up the water drops in the clouds cools. The cloud bursts like a soggy paper bag and the rain comes gushing down. 

Record cloudbursts in India

A cloudburst can cause over 10 cm of rainfall in an hour, over a small area. Let us take a look at a few of India's record cloudbursts!

August 2, 2010

Leh, Ladakh

25 cm of rainfall in just 1 hour!

September 29, 2010

National Defence Academy

14.4 cm of rainfall in just 1 hour!

October 4, 2010

Pashan, Pune

18.2 cm of rainfall in just 1.5 hours!

July 26, 2005


144.8 cm of rainfall in 10 hours!

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