DISCUSSION: Heavy monsoonal rains have wreaked havoc in northern India, southern Nepal, and Bangladesh. Extreme flooding and landslides have killed 160 people and displaced millions of others across the region. The rainfall, which started in eastern Nepal, was caused by an area of low pressure forming over the hills as it gradually moved west.
Particularly in Nepal, the Rapti and Budhirapti rivers flow through a large part of the country towards the southern plains. After their banks burst, many areas in the Chitwan Valley were inundated with water. This region includes human settlements and popular tourist attractions. Nearly 100 hotels were flooded and left at least 700 people stranded, with officials turning to elephants to aid in the rescue. The rains destroyed more than 50,000 homes and left runways in the nearby airport of Biratnagar under two feet of water.
From June through September during the monsoon season, flooding and landslides are fairly common. However, Nepal’s energy minister Mahendra Bahadur Sahi believes there is more to it: “The highways made by elevating the land next to the Nepal-India border have restricted the natural flow of water, leaving Nepal’s Terai plains submerged during the rainy season.”
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©2017 Meteorologist Nicholas Quaglieri