Daily Answer Writing for UPSC –23rd August 2023

Question: Discuss the causes, impacts, and mitigation strategies associated with cloudbursts, considering both the scientific understanding and the socio-economic aspects. (250 words)


Cloudbursts, brief and intense periods of heavy rainfall over a limited area, manifest as a striking weather phenomenon with unexpected precipitation exceeding 100mm/h across approximately 20-30 square km. In the Indian Subcontinent, these events typically arise when monsoon clouds migrate northward from the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea, passing over plains before reaching the Himalayas, occasionally delivering rainfall at rates of up to 75 millimeters per hour.


  • Moisture-laden Air: Cloudbursts often occur when warm, moisture-laden air rises and cools rapidly. This cooling leads to condensation of water vapor, forming clouds laden with excessive moisture.
  • Topographic Influence: The interaction of moisture-laden air with elevated terrain, such as mountains, can trigger orographic lifting. As the air rises along the mountain slopes, it cools and releases moisture as heavy rainfall.
  • Convective Processes: Convection, driven by temperature differences in the atmosphere, can lead to the rapid uplift of warm, moist air. This process can create conditions conducive to cloudbursts.


  • Flash Floods: One of the most immediate and devastating impacts of cloudbursts is the occurrence of flash floods. The intense rainfall in a short period overwhelms drainage systems, rivers, and streams, leading to rapid and unpredictable flooding.
  • Landslides: Cloudbursts can trigger landslides, especially in hilly or mountainous regions. The sudden influx of water can destabilize soil and rock, leading to mass movements that endanger lives and infrastructure.
  • Infrastructure Damage: Roads, bridges, buildings, and other critical infrastructure can be severely damaged or destroyed by the force of the floodwaters, hampering rescue and recovery efforts.
  • Environmental Degradation: The erosive force of cloudburst-induced floods can result in soil erosion, sedimentation in water bodies, and damage to ecosystems.

Measures of NDMA (National Disaster Management Authority) for cloudbursts:

  • Strengthening of dams, barrages, and embankments to regulate and control water flow.
  • Localized planning that incorporates the surrounding community and considers the ecological fragility of the region.
  • Adoption of eco-friendly legislation and eco-aware tourism for the development of the region.
  • International Collaboration: Cloudbursts can affect regions across national borders. International collaboration on research, data sharing, and disaster management can enhance preparedness and response.

Cloudbursts are meteorological events with far-reaching impacts that necessitate a comprehensive approach to understanding, addressing, and mitigating their effects.

Leave a Reply