Over 500 Killed in India's Monsoon Floods

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:25 PM GMT on June 21, 2013

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Earth's deadliest natural disaster so far in 2013 is the deadly flooding in India's Himalayan Uttarakhand region, where torrential monsoon rains have killed at least 556 people, with hundreds more feared dead. At least 5,000 people are missing. According to the Indian Meteorological Department, Uttarakhand received more than three times (329%) of its normal June rainfall from June 1 - 21, and rainfall was 847% of normal during the week June 13 - 19. Satellite estimates indicate that more than 20" (508 mm) or rain fell in a 7-day period from June 11 - 17 over some regions of Uttarakhand, which lies just to the west of Nepal in the Himalayas. Dehradun, the capital of Uttarakhand, received 14.57" (370 mm) of rain in 24 hours on June 16 - 17. This was the highest 24-hour rainfall in city history, according to an official from the India Meteorological Department. Dr. Dave Petley's Landslide Blog details that the torrential rains triggered a massive landslide that hit Uttarakhand's Hindu shrine in Kedarnath, which lies just a short distance from the snout of two mountain glaciers. The shrine is an important pilgrimage destination this time of year, and was packed with visitors celebrating the char-dham yatra: a pilgrimage to the four holy sites of Gangotri, Kedarnath, Yamnotri and Badrinath. Apparently, heavy rainfall triggered a collapse event on the mountain above Kedarnath, which turned into a debris flow downstream that struck the town. The main temple was heavily damaged, and numerous buildings in the town were demolished. It was Earth's deadliest landslide since the August 2010 Zhouqu landslide in China.

According to Aon Benfield's May Catastrophe Report, Earth's deadliest natural disasters of 2013 so far:

Winter weather, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, 1/1 - 1/20, 329 deaths
Earthquake, China, 4/20, 196 deaths
Flooding, Southern Africa, 1/10 - 2/28, 175 deaths
Flooding, Argentina, 4/2 - 4/4, 70 deaths
Flooding, Kenya, 3/10 - 4/30, 66 deaths


Figure 1. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) arrive to rescue stranded Sikh devotees from Hemkunt Sahib Gurudwara, a religious Sikh temple, to a safe place in Chamoli district, in northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, India, Monday, June 17, 2013. AP photo.


Figure 2. Satellite-estimated rainfall for the 7-day period June 11 - 17, 2013, from NASA's TRMM satellite exceeded 20 inches (508 mm) over portions of India's Uttarakhand province, leading to catastrophic floods. Image credit: NASA.

A record early arrival of the monsoon
The June 2013 monsoon rains in Uttarakhand were highly unusual, as the monsoon came to the region two weeks earlier than normal. The monsoon started in South India near the normal June 1 arrival date, but then advanced across India in unusually rapid fashion, arriving in Pakistan along the western border of India on June 16, a full month earlier than normal. This was the fastest progression of the monsoon on record. The previous record for fastest monsoon progression occurred in 1961, when all of India was under monsoon conditions by June 21. Reliable monsoon records go back to 1961, and are patchy before then. Fortunately, no more heavy rain is expected in Uttarakhand over the next few days, as the monsoon will be active only in eastern India. Heavy rains are expected again in the region beginning on June 24. Wunderblogger Lee Grenci's post, Summer Monsoon Advances Rapidly across India: Massive Flooding Ensues, has more detail on the meteorology of this year's monsoon. There is criticism from some that the devastating floods were not entirely a natural disaster--human-caused deforestation, dam building, and mining may have contributed. "Large-scale construction of dams and absence of environmental regulations has led to the floods," said Sunita Narian, director general of Delhi based advocacy group Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).


Figure 3. The summer monsoon arrived in southwest India right on schedule (June 1) in South India, but it spread northward much faster than usual, reaching Pakistan a full month earlier than normal. Solid green contours indicate the progress of the 2013 summer monsoon (each contour is labeled with a date). You can compare this year's rapid advance to a "normal" progression, which is represented by the dashed, red contours (also labeled with dates).

Monsoons in India: a primer
Disastrous monsoon floods are common in India and surrounding nations, and 60,000 people--an average of 500 people per year--died in India due to monsoon floods between 1900 - 2012, according to EM-DAT, the International Disaster Database. EM-DAT lists sixteen flood disasters which killed 1,000 or more people in India since records began in 1950. Here are the number of people killed in these events, along with the month and year of occurrence and locales affected:

4892, Jul 1968, Rajasthan, Gujara
3800, Jul 1978, North, Northeast
2001, May - Oct, 1994, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh
2000, Jul 1961, North
1811, Aug 1998, Assam, Arunachal, Bihar
1600, Aug 1980, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar
1591, Jul 28, 1989, Maharashtra, Andhra Prade
1479, Sep 1995, Bihar, Haryana, Punjab
1442, Aug 1997, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal
1200, Jul 24 - Aug 5, 2005 Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh
1200, Aug 1987, Assam, Bihar, West Bengal
1103, Jul 3 - Sep 22, 2007, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh
1063, Jun 11 - Jul 21, 2008 West Bengal, Orissa
1023, Jun 1971, North
1000, Sep 22 - Oct 9, 1988, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh
1000, Oct 1961

The monsoon occurs in summer, when the sun warms up land areas more strongly than ocean areas. This happens because wind and ocean turbulence mix the ocean's absorbed heat into a "mixed layer" approximately 50 meters deep, whereas on land, the sun's heat penetrates at a slow rate to a limited depth. Furthermore, due to its molecular properties, water has the ability to absorb more heat than the solid materials that make up land. As a result of this summertime differential heating of land and ocean, a low pressure region featuring rising air develops over land areas. Moisture-laden ocean winds blow towards the low pressure region and are drawn upwards once over land. The rising air expands and cools, condensing its moisture into some of the heaviest rains on Earth--the monsoon. Monsoons operate via the same principle as the familiar summer afternoon sea breeze, but on a grand scale. Each summer, monsoons affect every continent on Earth except Antarctica, and are responsible for life-giving rains that sustain the lives of billions of people. In India, home for over 1.1 billion people, the monsoon provides 80% of the annual rainfall. The most deadly flooding events usually come from monsoon depressions (also known as monsoon lows.) A monsoon depression is similar to (but larger than) a tropical depression. Both are spinning storms hundreds of kilometers in diameter with sustained winds of 50 - 55 kph (30 - 35 mph), nearly calm winds at their center, and generate very heavy rains. Typically, 6 - 7 monsoon depressions form each summer over the Bay of Bengal and track westwards across India.

The future of monsoons in India
A warming climate loads the dice in favor of heavier extreme precipitation events. This occurs because more water vapor can evaporate into a warmer atmosphere, increasing the chances of record heavy downpours. In a study published in Science in 2006, Goswami et al. found that the level of heavy rainfall activity in the monsoon over India had more than doubled in the 50 years since the 1950s, leading to an increased disaster potential from heavy flooding. Moderate and weak rain events decreased during those 50 years, leaving the total amount of rain deposited by the monsoon roughly constant. The authors commented, "These findings are in tune with model projections and some observations that indicate an increase in heavy rain events and a decrease in weak events under global warming scenarios." We should expect to see an increased number of disastrous monsoon floods in coming decades if the climate continues to warm as expected. Since the population continues to increase at a rapid rate in the region, death tolls from monsoon flooding disasters are likely to climb dramatically in coming decades. However, my greater concern for India is drought. The monsoon rains often fail during El Niño years, and more than 4.2 million people died in India due to droughts between 1900 - 2012. Up until the late 1960s, it was common for the failure of the monsoon rains to kill millions of people in India. The drought of 1965 - 1967 killed at least 1.5 million people. However, since the Green Revolution of the late 1960s--a government initiative to improve food self-sufficiency using new technology and high-yield grains--failure of the monsoon rains has not led to mass starvation in India. It is uncertain whether of not the Green Revolution can keep up with India's booming population, and the potential that climate change might bring more severe droughts. Climate models show a wide range of possibilities for the future of the Indian monsoon, and it is unclear at present what the future might hold. However, the fact that one of the worst droughts in India's history occurred in 2009 shows that serious droughts have to be a major concern for the future. The five worst Indian monsoons along with the rainfall deficits for the nation:

1) 1877, -33%
2) 1899, -29%
3) 1918, -25%
4) 1972, -24%
5) 2009, -22%

References
Goswami, et al., 2006, " Increasing Trend of Extreme Rain Events Over India in a Warming Environment", Science, 1 December 2006:Vol. 314. no. 5804, pp. 1442 - 1445 DOI: 10.1126/science.1132027

Wunderground's climate change blogger Dr. Ricky Rood wrote a nice 3-part series about the challenges India faces due to climate change after he completed a 2009 trip there.


Video 1. Flood waters claim a multi-story apartment building in Uttarakhand province, India, on June 17, 2013.

Historic flooding in Calgary, Alberta
Torrential rainfall on Wednesday night and Thursday has resulted in the most extensive flooding in Alberta Province, Canada in at least 8 years, with some 100,000 people facing evacuations in the city of Calgary. Wunderblogger Christopher C. Burt has a look at the disaster in his latest post. The floods are due, in part to the "stuck" jet stream pattern that brought record heat to Alaska this week.

Jeff Masters

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And daddyjames, congrats on the Heat winning the NBA Championship! And back to back no less...Quite impressive! They beat a outstanding TEAM!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting hurricanes2018:
anyone watching 45 west


I've noted it mentally...sure is south though.
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I would agree, the GEM has done fairly well so far on our A and B storms.......that must have been quite a upgrade they did!
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1355. SLU
Quoting stormchaser19:

I Don't know if this is going to persists in that way for ASO but, that blocking pattern seems pretty doomed....This year certainly can be the worst years in terms of landfall, but we need to see the steering current pattern at the particular moment, but this is going to be crazy if that persists..


Yes and this pattern has been locked in place since early April. History suggests that the pattern in AMJ usually remains intact through ASO. If it does, like you said, 2013 could be one of the worst years in recent times for landfalling storms in the Caribbean and the US.

Some people call it "hype" but the danger is real.
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1354. VR46L
Quoting Dakster:


Yes it has - to my surprise as well - looks like whatever tweaks they are doing to the CMC are paying off.

Scary prediction coming, but before crying wolf let's see if we get some model run consistency.
Quoting ncstorm:


Hey VR..its done very well..I think a lot of people have forgotten that it was upgraded recently..we will see if it gets this one right as well..


Yes we will have to see how it does in the future .. but at the moment I am less inclined to discount it the way I had before the upgrade !

Hiya NC ... Good to see ya !
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1353. sar2401
Quoting txjac:
sar, if you are in the west Houston area please wash you car ...it increases my changes of rain.

I'll be washing mine soon.

Well, just got back in from washing the car. I'm now hot, wet, and sweaty, but the car is nice and shiny. Guess what I just saw on radar...yep, I've got several thunderstorms coming right at me. I hope my efforts do some good in Houston, since my car will look like it never got washed in about 45 minutes or so. :-)
Member Since: October 2, 2004 Posts: 0 Comments: 16117
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


it hasn't arrived so far this summer for any extended time frame.....I hear it is on the way however.....as long as it is hot and dry my swamper works great and will keep me 72-78 all day
i know what u were really talking about! : )
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Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:


it hasn't arrived so far this summer for any extended time frame.....I hear it is on the way however.....as long as it is hot and dry my swamper works great and will keep me 72-78 all day


LOL - I was referring to the Heat in Miami.
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1350. SLU
Quoting pottery:

Thanks for that, SLU.
It follows my thinking too.
Which has me kind of concerned.
As you know, in the last couple of years flash-flooding has become a real issue.
The problems with de-forestation, over-development in the valleys, inadequate drainage etc etc is already causing Horrors.
Heavy rains this year will mean more of the same, and worse too.

Not good.


Yep. The floods from last year were very bad and they weren't even caused by a direct hit from a storm either. A strong TS would be able to cause incalculable destruction giving the country's vulnerability to flooding.
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Quoting daddyjames:


yeah - how 'bout the Heat? ;)


it hasn't arrived so far this summer for any extended time frame.....I hear it is on the way however.....as long as it is hot and dry my swamper works great and will keep me 72-78 all day
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anyone watching 45 west
Member Since: March 12, 2013 Posts: 27 Comments: 53562
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:
Isn't life grand?


yeah - how 'bout the Heat? ;)
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1345. ncstorm
Quoting VR46L:


You know the CMC has preformed really well in comparison to the others this season IMO . was very impressed that it sniffed out the double distrubance in the EPAC last monday also saw the other 2 epac storms this year first and also saw Andrea first may have overdone intensity but it is doing well so far ... JMO


Hey VR..its done very well..I think a lot of people have forgotten that it was upgraded recently..we will see if it gets this one right as well..
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1344. Dakster
Quoting VR46L:


You know the CMC has preformed really well in comparison to the others this season IMO . was very impressed that it sniffed out the double distrubance in the EPAC last monday also saw the other 2 epac storms this year first and also saw Andrea first may have overdone intensity but it is doing well so far ... JMO


Yes it has - to my surprise as well - looks like whatever tweaks they are doing to the CMC are paying off.

Scary prediction coming, but before crying wolf let's see if we get some model run consistency.
Member Since: March 10, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 10469
Quoting SLU:


I believe that the super strong ridging will put Trinidad at higher risk of tropical storms this year. The low latitude waves may not be allowed to gain much latitude at all and they may develop further south than last year.

Also, the unusually high pressures in the subtropics will be a deterrent to activity in the mid-latitudes and the storms will always try to follow the path of least resistance .... which can be found to the west.

img src="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

I Don't know if this is going to persists in that way for ASO but, that blocking pattern seems pretty doomed....This year certainly can be the worst years in terms of landfall, but we need to see the steering current pattern at the particular moment, but this is going to be crazy if that persists..
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Quoting pottery:

Good !
Ours has just begun, sigh.....


Yeah, now its all about endurance here :)

Well, aware of it - SoFL was home - and still is for the rest of the family.
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1341. VR46L
Quoting daddyjames:
Hey all,

Thanks for calling me out - I did completely misinterpret Xulon's comment, and appreciate you putting on the brakes for me.

Maybe I should just retire from the blog today . . . as the Emotional Weather Report appears a bit stormy today.


LOL we all make Mistakes to err is human . but It takes guts to admit you are wrong !

I respect that !
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Isn't life grand?
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1339. VR46L
Quoting ncstorm:
12z CMC--HOLY....





You know the CMC has preformed really well in comparison to the others this season IMO . was very impressed that it sniffed out the double distrubance in the EPAC last monday also saw the other 2 epac storms this year first and also saw Andrea first may have overdone intensity but it is doing well so far ... JMO
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Hey all,

Thanks for calling me out - I did completely misinterpret Xulon's comment, and appreciate you putting on the brakes for me.

Maybe I should just retire from the blog today . . . as the Emotional Weather Report appears a bit stormy today.
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Massive isn't the word for how large the GFS is forecasting 03E to become. Its central dense overcast would take up the entire state of Texas at this time:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 32278
1336. pottery
Quoting daddyjames:
Oklahoma

Forecast here from now until September (pretty much:

Sunny. Warm, to hot, to extremely hot! winds from the south-southwest.
Dry with occasional threat of thunderstorms.

Our season of drama is over.

Good !
Ours has just begun, sigh.....
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Quoting Neapolitan:
You're quite welcome! I'm always happy to provide information for those who might otherwise miss it. I understand that there will always be a few who would rather not know what's going on in the world, but I don't worry much about them; after all, they are always free to ignore me, right?

Anyway, here's the latest outlook for Fairbanks from the NWS. Amazing, huh? Temperatures a good 20 degrees above normal for a sustained period? I wouldn't call that "summertime"; I'd call it "hellish".

heat

Yay blocking.

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1334. pottery
Quoting SLU:


I believe that the super strong ridging will put Trinidad at higher risk of tropical storms this year. The low latitude waves may not be allowed to gain much latitude at all and they may develop further south than last year.

Also, the unusually high pressures in the subtropics will be a deterrent to activity in the mid-latitudes and the storms will always try to follow the path of least resistance .... which can be found to the west.

img src="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

Thanks for that, SLU.
It follows my thinking too.
Which has me kind of concerned.
As you know, in the last couple of years flash-flooding has become a real issue.
The problems with de-forestation, over-development in the valleys, inadequate drainage etc etc is already causing Horrors.
Heavy rains this year will mean more of the same, and worse too.

Not good.
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The Epac is positively monsoonal!
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Quoting yoboi:



Thanks for posting your multiple a day summertime alaska weather report....maybe you can post at 10 & 50 after the hr like TWC does with the tropics???? keep up the great work.....
You're quite welcome! I'm always happy to provide information for those who might otherwise miss it. I understand that there will always be a few who would rather not know what's going on in the world, but I don't worry much about them; after all, they are always free to ignore me, right?

Anyway, here's the latest outlook for Fairbanks from the NWS. Amazing, huh? Temperatures a good 20 degrees above normal for a sustained period? I wouldn't call that "summertime"; I'd call it "hellish"--and a definite harbinger of things to come...

heat
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13556
Day 3 has the entire state of Michigan (and a few others) under slight risk.

Member Since: July 2, 2011 Posts: 0 Comments: 1183
Oklahoma

Forecast here from now until September (pretty much:

Sunny. Warm, to hot, to extremely hot! winds from the south-southwest.
Dry with occasional threat of thunderstorms.

Our season of drama is over.
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1328. ncstorm
12z CMC--HOLY....



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1327. SLU
Quoting pottery:


I believe that the super strong ridging will put Trinidad at higher risk of tropical storms this year. The low latitude waves may not be allowed to gain much latitude at all and they may develop further south than last year.

Also, the unusually high pressures in the subtropics will be a deterrent to activity in the mid-latitudes and the storms will always try to follow the path of least resistance .... which can be found to the west.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic
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1326. pottery
Quoting daddyjames:


Hey pottery - acknowledged that I misinterpreted his statement. The fly is buzzing off ;) ...

LOL.OK.
Where are you, and what's the weather ?
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Quoting pottery:

Not really.
It's just that I don't think that anyone here was disagreeing with you at all.
But you seem intent on making an issue about it.

Whatever turns you on....


Hey pottery - acknowledged that I misinterpreted his statement. The fly is buzzing off ;) ...
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@ Xulon

An open apology to you, if I misinterpreted your statement.

I hope that there is no ill will between us.
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1323. pottery
Quoting daddyjames:


Am I the fly in your ointment today?

Not really.
It's just that I don't think that anyone here was disagreeing with you at all.
But you seem intent on making an issue about it.

Whatever turns you on....
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1322. pottery
Quoting HurricaneHunterJoe:

Was just looking at the animated Rainbow loops...
The wave at 60W has crossed the coast at Venezuela/Guyana.
Does not seem to have affected it at all.
Expecting rain here tonight in Trinidad from that.
Currently bright, hot, still...
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Quoting pottery:

You could drop it, you know ?


Am I the fly in your ointment today?
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Quoting Gearsts:
Look at the Epac!

I think the MJO has his influences on that but,It's gone by week four!!!
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Quoting yonzabam:


Whoa, there, daddy. See post #1305 above.


I did. See my previous post.
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Quoting yonzabam:


Erm . . . I think Xulon is being ironic/sarcastic - call it what you will. From Wiki -

Henry Watson Fowler, in The King's English, says "any definition of irony—though hundreds might be given, and very few of them would be accepted—must include this, that the surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said are not the same." Also, Eric Partridge, in Usage and Abusage, writes that "Irony consists in stating the contrary of what is meant."


Maybe I misinterpreted his comments . . . I just don't understand where they are coming from - given that I posted that in response to islander.

If I did, my apologies to Xulon.
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Quoting daddyjames:



Oh, and by the way, the Supreme Court of India recognizes the problem too.

Food security: The Supreme Court steps in

"just a couple of days earlier (on 28 July, 2010), the Supreme Court also directed the government to ensure that grain should never be allowed to rot but should instead be distributed among the hungry. It also directed its commissioner to submit a report on the rotting of foodgrain in six states."

So, I don't know what your problem is - and frankly don't like your attitude. Put me on ignore if you don't like being confronted with the facts.


Whoa, there, daddy. See post #1305 above.
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1314. pottery
Quoting daddyjames:



Oh, and by the way, the Supreme Court of India recognizes the problem too.

Food security: The Supreme Court steps in

"just a couple of days earlier (on 28 July, 2010), the Supreme Court also directed the government to ensure that grain should never be allowed to rot but should instead be distributed among the hungry. It also directed its commissioner to submit a report on the rotting of foodgrain in six states."

So, I don't know what your problem is - and frankly don't like your attitude. Put me on ignore if you don't like being confronted with the facts.

You could drop it, you know ?
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Quoting Xulonn:
There you go again, DaddyJames. Don't you know that everything in the world is black and white and there are no shades of gray? Please stop with the nuance and detail - it makes my over-simplified conclusions look bad! Next thing you know, you'll be quoting scientific evidence when everyone knows that opinions are more accurate.

/snark

[Edit] Even though I almost always try to look behind the obvious and stick to science, I sometimes take a quick look and jump to a conclusion - many of do that when we are in a hurry, but some people do it most of the time.)



Oh, and by the way, the Supreme Court of India recognizes the problem too.

Food security: The Supreme Court steps in

"just a couple of days earlier (on 28 July, 2010), the Supreme Court also directed the government to ensure that grain should never be allowed to rot but should instead be distributed among the hungry. It also directed its commissioner to submit a report on the rotting of foodgrain in six states."

So, I don't know what your problem is - and frankly don't like your attitude. Put me on ignore if you don't like being confronted with the facts.

Edit: Xulon - it has been pointed out to me that I may have misinterpreted your statement. My apologies to you if i did. I hope that there is "No harm, no foul".
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1312. pottery
Quoting Gearsts:
Look at the Epac!


Epic Epac, Egad!
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1311. Gearsts
Look at the Epac!
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1310. pottery
Quoting moonlightcowboy:


Hear ya. :) Understood. Keep us posted!

Will do.
But I'm away from the computer Mon-Fri these days, working in the mountains. (See RobdaHoods blog) so I'm out of reach.
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Quoting pottery:

Hey MLC, good to see you again.
Calabash tree was/is pretty confused, and sent conflicting messages at peculiar times.
Sort of like the rest of us..... :):))


Hear ya. :) Understood. Keep us posted!
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1308. ncstorm
Quoting Xulonn:

******************************************
I'll let Dr. Masters do the bashing...


I'm pretty sure that post was before Andrea formed which the Almanac got EXACTLY correct..its okay even Dr. Masters gets it wrong as anyone in meterology..
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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