Rain to be double-edged sword for southern India into this weekend

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Courtney Spamer, AccuWeather meteorologist
March 16, 2018, 7:03:02 AM EDT

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Rain that may be both beneficial and detrimental will spread across southern India into Sunday.

The rain will be produced by a weakening tropical low over the southern Arabian Sea. While the system is no longer a tropical depression, enough moisture will streak across southern India to produce showers and thunderstorms.

A few showers may dampen areas from southern Maharashtra to southern Odisha into Friday night.

India March 15


However, the most numerous downpours are expected farther south across southern Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. This includes in Coimbatore and Bengaluru.

Total rainfall from the downpours will generally average 12-25 mm (0.50-1.00 inch) through Saturday, with local amounts to 50-75 mm (2-3 inches).

For Chennai, the wettest time period is expected on Friday night and Saturday.

This rain is both beneficial and a hindrance to those in the area.

On the one hand, the rain will largely benefit the firefighting efforts in the ongoing wildfire areas and will aid in drought relief.

However, the dry ground may not be able to absorb all of the rain from the downpours. That can lead to flash flooding and a risk for mudslides.

"Lightning strikes away from where it is raining can also touch off new wildfires," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Kristina Pydynowski said.

"That is in addition to the danger that lightning poses to anyone caught outdoors," she said. "Remember to seek shelter as soon as thunder is heard to avoid being struck by lightning."

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One wildfire that has already left its mark on southern India occurred in the Theni Forest of western Tamil Nadu this past Sunday. The raging wildfire killed at least 14 trekkers of the more than 40 that were reported in the area when the fire broke out, according to Xinhua.

Military helicopters were requested to aid rescue efforts due to the rough terrain and dangerous conditions.

While no cause of the fire has been determined, the trekking organizer has been detained by police, according to the Indian Express.

The downpours are expected to focus along the southwestern coast of India on Sunday with a trend toward drier weather early next week.

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