Rogue storm system caused devastating Pakistan floods

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 26, 2011 08:00 hrs

Scientists have found that the disastrous floods that hit Pakistan last summer were caused by a rogue weather system that wandered hundreds of miles farther west than is normal for such systems.

The terrible floods killed more than 2,000 people and left more than 20 million injured or homeless in Pakistan.

The flooding began in July and at one point it was estimated that 20 percent of Pakistan's total land area was under water.

Robert Houze, a University of Washington atmospheric sciences professor, and colleagues examined radar data from the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite.

They were able to see that the rainfall that caused the Indus River in Pakistan to overflow was triggered over the Himalayas, within a storm system that had formed over the Bay of Bengal in late July and moved unusually far to the west.

Because the rain clouds were within the moisture-laden storm from the east, they were able to pour abnormal amounts of rain on the barren mountainsides, which then ran into the Indus.

The progress of the storm system stood out in the satellite radar data, Houze said.

The storms were associated with a wind pattern that could be traced in the satellite data back to its origin over the Bay of Bengal, Houze said.

The findings will be published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. (ANI)