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Thunder storm: A deadly natural disaster

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09th-May-2018       
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Professor Dr. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder and Romana Afrose Meem :
A thunderstorm is a storm with lightning and thunder. Its produced by a cumulonimbus cloud, usually with gusty winds, heavy rain, sleet and sometimes hail. Thunderstorms can occur year-round and at all hours. But in Bangladesh, they are most likely to happen in the spring and summer months from March to May, during the afternoon and evening hours. Lightning form thunder is extremely hot and a flash can heat the air around it to temperatures five times hotter than the sun's surface. A lightning strike delivers an at least 300 kilovolts to whopping 600 kilovolts (1KV=10, 00000 v). 110 volt is enough to kill a person, 1500 volt is sufficient to apart a large tree. So, we can easily assume that how dangerous the thunderstorm could be.
During the first quarter of 2018, a series of extremely powerful thunder lightening outbreaks with damaging hail, high winds, heavy rain and storm caused huge economic damage and loss of lives in Bangladesh. According to a scientific study in USA It is clearly found that; thunderstorm also has an adverse impact on health like central nervous system injuries, heart attack, hearing loss, vision loss, dizziness retinal detachment and optic nerve degeneration. In 2014 around 210 people have been died in Bangladesh and in recent time; all most every day we are getting news of death occurrence because of the thunderstorm in different districts of our country. Thunder always associates with hazardous weather events & strengthen its power so the impacts of thunderstorm is huge. Strong thunderstorms can also spawn tornadoes, which can cause massive destruction to personal and business property. Losing trees, animals, crops & grass field is very common; moreover this can cause severe damage to any electrical appliances that are plugged into an outlet. Items such as phones, computers, small kitchen appliances and sound systems can be ruined when this occurs. It also causes damage to a home or other property. Using of Solar Power panel is increasing day by day. If Thunder lightning strike on it, the panel would be destroyed. Additionally, it also could explode the battery which connects to the solar panel. The explosion of this battery even is deadly. It may take the lives of people who live in the house where the battery was placed.  
During thunderstorms and lightning it is better to avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords, important to unplug appliances and other electrical items such as television and turn off microwave oven, air condition, computer, laptop etc as power surges from lightning can cause serious damage. Eschew hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water and take shelter in sturdy & large buildings. People should avoid any contact with the metal element like motorcycle, bicycle and agricultural equipment.  Stay away from windows and doors, veranda and stay off rooftop is very necessary. Important to Watch our animals & pet closely. Keep them under direct control.
After the thunder lightning passes it is urgent to help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs. Stay away from downed or broken power lines, electric equipment.
Continued global warming could help create atmospheric conditions that are fertile breeding grounds for severe thunderstorms. Scientists say warmer temperatures associated with climate change are causing more moisture intensify. Water evaporation from the land and ocean, increasing clouds and rainfall and the potential for lightning storms. Now, in our country, we are easily experiencing the consequences of global warming. According to the climatevo database it is found that average temperature of March 2014 was 24°C (75.2°F) but in 2018 the temperature increased by 12,5 %   [27°C (80.6°F)]. It can be assumed this temperature increasing rate from past time may responsible for more thunder lightning. Air pollution, deforestation also increase the risk of forming thunderstorm & lightning. A recent study of BAPA shows that, there are the threatening rate of Sulfur dioxide (SO2), Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) are present in our air. In total, between 1990 and 2010, Bangladesh lost 3.5% of its forest cover which is around 52,000 hectors. Bangladesh continuously losing 0.18% of its forests annually due to environmental and human causes
It is always said that, prevention always better than cure. It is very crucial to plant a number of trees, stop deforestation and take major steps to keep our air clean. Global warming is a worldwide issue, so Government needs to focus on this & find solutions. Moreover, we need to introduce extensive research on Thunderstorm. Though research on thunder lightning demands highly equipped lab facility, we may seek international collaboration to support the research.
The writers are associated with teaching and research in Department of Environmental Science at Stamford University Bangladesh.
(Professor Dr. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, Chairman, Department of Environmental Science, Stamford University Bangladesh, E-mail: kamrul_sub@hotmail.com)

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