This paper assesses the long-term changes in mortalities due to extreme weather events in India. In the Indian subcontinent, the annual average extreme weather events (EWEs) are reported to be increasing during the last few decades. The impact of increased EWEs on mortality has become a key issue in terms of minimizing it, even with the increasing population. In the present study, based on 50 years’ data (1970–2019) of India Meteorological Department, mortality rates of different EWEs viz., floods, tropical cyclones, heat waves, cold waves, lightning, etc. were analysed, both at the national and state level.
The analysis finds that of these EWEs, floods accounted for maximum mortality of 46.1%, followed by tropical cyclones with 28.6% mortality. Over the decades, despite a significant rise in EWEs (except for tropical cyclones), there has been a decrease in the mortality rate (mortalities per year per million population). The number of mortalities per event had a significant negative trend for heatwaves and floods, during the last 50 years. The total EWEs had a mortality rate of 3.86 during 1980–1999 and it reduced to 2.14 during 2000–2019. The mortality rate of tropical cyclones reduced by 94% in the past 20 years, whereas for heatwaves and lightning it increased by 62.2% and 52.8%, respectively. However, the change in mortality rate was not found to be statistically significant due to high year to year variability in mortality associated with floods, lightning, and tropical cyclones in the last two decades as compared to earlier decades.