On 11 October 2021, Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology declared that the southwest monsoon had officially exited the country. Paddy fields across the country were golden with ripening rice, and Nepalis were getting ready to prepare for the Dasain festival.
On 15 October, the Met Office reported that a westerly system had become active, and there was likely to be some rain. Indeed, the frontal system lashed the Indian state of Uttarakhand, triggering landslides and causing flash floods.
Nepal is used to localised rains even after the monsoon ends, but this was the first time in 12 years that there was widespread nationwide rain in October. And it was not just ordinary showers, the cloudbursts dumped more than 500mm of rain in Dadeldhura on 17-19 October. Sunsari got nearly 400mm in just 24 hours on 19-20 October.
Landslides and floods killed over 120 people across the country, 28 are still missing. Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture had predicted paddy harvests to exceed target because of a healthy monsoon, but the unexpected rain in October cost nearly Rs12 billion in damage to the rice crop, reducing Nepal’s GDP by 0.6%. Sudurpaschim Province alone lost up to one-third of paddy that was ready for harvest.