The city of Mumbai, India, frequently receives extreme rainfall (>204.5 mm day−1) during the summer monsoonal period (June–September), causing flash floods and other hazards. An assessment of the meteorological conditions that lead to these rain events is carried out for 15 previous cases from 1980 to 2020. The moisture source for such rain events over Mumbai is generally an offshore trough, a midtropospheric cyclone, or a Bay of Bengal depression. The analysis shows that almost all of the extreme rain events are associated with at least two of these conditions co-occurring. The presence of a narrow zone of high sea surface temperature approximately along the latitude of Mumbai over the Arabian Sea can favor mesoscale convergence and is observed at least 3 days before the event. Anomalous wind remotely supplying copious moisture from the Bay of Bengal adds to the intensity of the rain event. The presence of midtropospheric circulation and offshore trough, along with the orographic lifting of the moisture, give a unique meteorological setup to bring about highly localized catastrophic extreme rainfall events over Mumbai. The approach adopted in this study can be utilized for other such locales to develop location-specific guidance that can aid the local forecasting and emergency response communities. Further, it also provides promise for using data-driven/machine learning–based pattern analysis for developing warning triggers.
We have identified the meteorological conditions that lead to extreme heavy rains over Mumbai, India. They are that 1) at least two of these rain-bearing systems, offshore trough, midtropospheric circulation, and Bay of Bengal depression moving north-northwestward are concurrently present, 2) an anomalous high SST gradient is present along the same latitude as Mumbai, and 3) the Western Ghats orography favors the rainfall extreme to be highly localized over Mumbai.
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Nadimpalli’s current affiliation: Indian Meteorological Department, New Delhi, India.