Climate India 2023: An assessment of extreme weather events


This report published on November 28, 2023, by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) and magazine Down to Earth (DTE), sheds light on extreme weather patterns in India. It studies the period between January and September 2023. CSE, established in 1980 and based in New Delhi, is a prominent public interest research and advocacy organization. Down To Earth is an online magazine known for its insightful environmental coverage.

Authored by Kiran Pandey and Ranjit Sengupta, the report draws upon data from sources such as the Indian Meteorological Department and the Disaster Management Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs. It also tracks media reports to highlight episodes when official data is insufficient.

According to the report, India experienced extreme weather events on 235 days out of 273 days in the first nine months of 2023 – impacting all states and union territories. The report offers a detailed analysis of these events by season, month, and region, along with their associated loss and damage including the number of human deaths and the crop area affected due to such events.

This 52-page document is divided into six sections: Executive Summary (Section 1); Regional analysis (Section 2); Seasonal analysis (Section 3); Disaster-wise analysis (Section 4); Comparative Analysis between 2022 and 2023 (Section 5) and Climate Change Attribution (Section 6).


  1. Extreme weather events claimed 2,923 human lives, affected 1.84 million hectares (ha) of crop area, destroyed over 80,563 houses and killed close to 92,519 livestock  from January 1 to September 30, 2023. 

  2. Madhya Pradesh saw the highest number of days with extreme weather events and at least 45,000 hectares of crop area was affected, and Bihar saw the highest number of human deaths with 642 deaths. Whereas Himachal Pradesh reported the highest number of damaged houses (15,407) and Punjab reported the highest number of livestock deaths (63,649).

  3. The country experienced an extreme weather event on 28 of 59 days in the winter months of 2023 spread across 21 states/ Union Territories, especially affecting Punjab and Haryana. In February, Central India recorded an unprecedented 99 per cent rainfall deficit, the worst in 122 years.

  4. Pre-Monsoon season recorded normal temperatures but rainfall remained above average, accompanied by unusually high incidence of lightning and storms, especially hailstorms, affecting nearly the entire country. During this period (March-May 2023), extreme weather events were witnessed on 85 out of 92 days spread across 33 states/UTs. Maharashtra was the worst hit with extreme weather events on 41 out of 92 days (pg. 19, para 3). Central India and South Peninsula experienced surplus rainfall of 206 per cent and 107 per cent respectively. 

  5. In April 2023, Northwest India, Central India, and the South Peninsula experienced surplus rainfall, while East and Northeast India saw a 48 per cent deficit in rainfall. However, May was cooler than the average (1981-2010), leading to subdued heatwave conditions across the country.

  6. Although monsoon arrived seven days later, it covered the entire country around 15 days earlier than average. Extreme weather events were reported on all 122 days of the monsoon season, resulting in over 2,594 human deaths, damage to 0.81 million hectares of crop area, and destruction of 80,563 houses.

  7. In June, India's rainfall was slightly below the Long Period Average (1971-2020) – except for the South Peninsula, which experienced an unusually dry spell with a 45 per cent rainfall deficit, and Northwest India, which reported an unusually wet spell with a 42 per cent rainfall surplus. The country experienced heavy rains, floods and landslides and lightning and storms on all 31 days of July spread across 35 states/UTs.

  8. India recorded its driest August in India in 122 years, with rainfall 36 per cent below the Long Period Average (1971-2020) of 254.9 mm. Central India (165 mm) and South Peninsular India (76.4 mm) also experienced their lowest rainfall since.

  9. On 176 of 273 days, India experienced lightning and storms which claimed 711 human lives. Madhya Pradesh was the worst affected with 115 human deaths in 62 such occurrences. 

  10. On 132 of 273 days, India experienced heavy rains, floods and landslides, claiming 1,903 human lives. On 49 of 273 days, India experienced heatwaves, spread across 20 states/UTs which claimed 201 human lives.

  11. During this period, the country also experienced cold wave on 21 days; snowfall on 5 days with nine deaths; cloudbursts on eight days leading to 19 deaths; and one day of cyclone which claimed two lives.

  12. Extreme weather events were experienced on six lesser days than in 2022 however, all 36 states and Union Territories were affected in 2023, compared to 34 in 2022. The events caused 2,923 fatalities this year, compared to 2,755 last year. 

  13. During winter (January, February), the area of crop damage saw a 12-fold increase – from 0.03 million hectares in 2022 to 0.39 million hectares in 2023. During pre-monsoon (March-May), a 64-fold increase in crop damage was seen – from 0.01 million hectares last year to 0.64 million hectares in 2023 pre-monsoon.

    Focus and Factoids by Arunima Mandwariya.


Kiran Pandey and Ranjit Sengupta


Center for Science and Environment, New Delhi, and Down To Earth 


28 Nov, 2023