Hail rolls out white carpet
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Hail rolls out white carpet

February 20, 2021
  • Joy for some; sorrow for others
  • Major coffee crop damage, says GSI Scientist

Madikeri/Somwarpet: Parts of North Kodagu were swathed in a white carpet yesterday with ice left behind after a hailstorm.

Heavy rains and hailstorms lashed villages of Nidtha, Ankanahalli, Mullooru, Dundalli, Doddalli and Gudugalale near Shanivarsanthe of Somwarpet taluk in Kodagu district yesterday, taking residents by surprise. In Chamarajanagar too it rained hail last evening, throwing traffic out of gear. 

In Kodagu, due to rain of hail, villages resembled snowing Kashmir plains. Children and women cheered the hail storm and they rushed outside homes to fistfuls of hailstones. Photos and videos of the hail went viral, inviting reactions of awe and delight in social media. 

While the hail rain looked attractive with white carpet spread and with visuals of people holding the hailstones in their hands, it worried the farmers and coffee growers of Kodagu as this is the season of coffee blossoms and if it rained hail, it would damage the flowers resulting in low-yield next year. The growers are already tormented by unseasonal rains and, lack of support from the Government and less pricing for coffee.  

Heaps of hailstones were found on the roads, coffee estates, roof of the houses and coconut plantations. The Ankanahalli Government School and a veterinary clinic were covered with hailstones. Along with hailstones and rains, the gusty winds also damaged the standing crops including coffee, paddy, green chilli, mango and arecanut in the district as there is high moisture content. This also will dent the product quality. 

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As the weatherman has predicted rains for two or three more days, coffee growers have said that due to rain, ripe coffee berries have fallen onto the ground and the drying process has been affected as it rained in the second and third week of January — a crucial month for drying. The rains also resulted in early flowering before the annual harvest, they said. 

Ice formation in static clouds

Giving a scientific perspective to the hailstorm, former Deputy Director General of Geological Survey of India (GSI) told Star of Mysore this morning that though the hailstorm looks beautiful with white ice cubes all over, it is bound to cause major damage to standing crops. 

“There was a dip in the temperature in January this year and the average temperature ranged between 12 to 13 degrees Celsius. And there was no cloud movement for more than 15 to 20 days after the cold spell. This caused ice to form in the static clouds and now due to rise in temperature and Rathasapthami, the ice has melted and it has resulted in the rain of hail. While in Kodagu small white ice cubes fell onto the ground, in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh large cubes even weighing about 500 grams fell from above,” he explained. 

The Kodagu District Administration must send a team to the affected villages and assess the damage that will be severe. Farmers and growers are entitled for Government compensation, he added. 

The Karnataka State Natural Disaster Monitoring Centre (KSNDMC) has predicted scattered to widespread light to moderate rains with isolated heavy rains likely over South interior Karnataka and Malnad districts and isolated to scattered very light to light rains likely over Coastal and North interior Karnataka districts for three more days.

The rains are a result of a weather system — a trough in Arabian Sea from Kerala to Gujarat coast. The weather system which was over Vidarbha as a cyclonic circulation has now shifted towards Madhya Maharashtra and adjoining areas. A trough is also extending from this cyclonic circulation to Kerala. These two weather systems — resulting low level moisture feed from Bay of Bengal in the form of South-easterly winds and humid winds from Arabian Sea at a height of three kilometres — are causing rains and hailstorms, says weatherman.

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