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Hot days incoming? Temperature in summer likely to be above normal over most of India, predicts IMD

ByJayashree Nandi, New Delhi
Mar 02, 2024 04:29 AM IST

The summer season is classified from March to end of May, before the monsoon season officially starts from June.

The summer months of March to May are likely to be hotter than usual across most of the country, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Friday, while also predicting El Nino conditions to persist for most of this period, which could in turn result in a higher number of heatwave days.

IMD customarily puts out a forecast for the summer season in the first week of March every year.(Rahul Raut/HT file photo)
IMD customarily puts out a forecast for the summer season in the first week of March every year.(Rahul Raut/HT file photo)

Some regions, however, including the northwest that includes Delhi, could record normal to below normal night-time lows and daytime peaks, especially over the first 15 days of March when a series of western disturbance are predicted to bring rain in these regions.

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IMD customarily puts out a forecast for the summer season in the first week of March every year, with the temperatures in the 12-week period from then having significant implications for public health and agriculture. For instance, unusually hot weather or excessive spells of rain in March could hurt a number of winter crops that are close to harvest in April and May.

The summer season is classified from March to end of May, before the monsoon season officially starts from June.
The summer season is classified from March to end of May, before the monsoon season officially starts from June.

“We are expecting maximum temperatures to remain below normal till around March 15 over northwest India. This is mainly because we are expecting cloudy skies and rainfall due to consecutive WDs,” said M Mohapatra, director general, IMD.

The rain spells, Mohapatra added, could hurt some crops. “During the next two weeks we expect intense rain and even hailstorm in some regions of northwest India. That can be damaging for the wheat crop. Light to moderate rain will be beneficial in some areas. Farmers have been advised to prepare,” he said.

Also Read | Colder end to Feb this season as min temp hovers near 8°C mark

But after that, temperatures are likely to pick up for most parts of the country due to the El Nino phenomenon in the equatorial pacific, which has cascading impact on weather across the world.

“El Nino conditions have weakened but they are still prevailing and expected to continue till May. El Nino is associated with above normal number of heatwave days also. So, we can expect a hot summer,” added Mohapatra.

The 12 weeks of the beginning of the summer will also coincide with hectic political activity with large gatherings across the country in campaign rallies as it heads into general elections, which will culminate with the last of the voting roughly around the first week of May. Heatwaves could potentially be a cause for concern in many parts.

The summer season is classified from March to end of May, before the monsoon season officially starts from June.

The IMD director general said that of late, the transition from winter to summer temperatures has been quicker than usual. “We have observed that spring is arriving early. It is because winter is diffusing sooner than before. A milder winter end is nothing but spring. This is being seen globally due to global warming,” said Mohapatra.

According to Friday’s forecast, above-normal maximum/day temperatures are likely over most parts of the country, except over some isolated areas of northwest, northeast, central and peninsular India. The minimum or night time temperatures are also likely to be above normal over most parts of the country, IMD said on Friday.

Monthly maximum temperatures for March will be likely to be above normal over most areas of peninsular, northeast and west central India.

Night time temperatures are likely to be above normal over most parts of the country except some isolated areas along the Himalayas where normal to below normal minimum temperatures are most likely in March, IMD added.

The weather department has also warned that above-normal number of heatwave days are likely over most parts of the country except over northeast India, western himalayan region, southwest peninsula and west coast during March to May.

The IMD forecast went into some detail on the El Nino phenomenon, saying that majority of climate models gave indicated it will persist through March-May 2024 and then transition to ENSO-neutral thereafter. There are high chances of La Nina establishing during July to August period.

El Nino is when the equatorial pacific region becomes warmer than usual, while La Nina is when the opposite happens. The two are cyclical patterns, and send a chain reaction across global weather. In India, El Nino is associated with drier monsoons, while La Nina has correlated with more rainfall during the July-October period, which is crucial for India’s heavily rainfed agriculture sector.

La Nina also brings about unusual spring and summer dominated by extreme record-breaking heat spells.

Rainfall during March, averaged over the country as whole, is likely to be above normal (>117% of LPA), the forecast said.

Normal to above-normal rainfall is likely over most parts of the country except over extreme southeastern areas of South Peninsula and some areas of Northeast and extreme Northwest India where below-normal rainfall is likely.

The government weather agency also reported that it was the second warmest February since 1901 when it comes to night/minimum temperatures for the country as a whole. For south peninsular India it was the warmest February since 1901 both in terms of day and night temperatures. This is mainly because of extreme rain deficiency recorded in the region in February, scientists said.

Minimum temperatures were highest for Central India also in February.

During winter season (January and February), there was a 33% deficiency in rainfall. The deficiency improved in February which saw a high number of western disturbances bring rainfall to northwest India.

January had ended with a rain deficiency of 58% with 91% rain deficiency over northwest India. But in February, Peninsular India recorded a 91% rain deficiency-- 15th lowest since 1901 and 4th lowest since 2001.

A total of eight WDs impacted the Western Himalayan region in February compared to normal of 2-3. Out of eight WDs, six WDs were active and caused rain/thunderstorm and hail storm over plains of north and central India.

Due to hailstorm in February, Amaravati, Nagpur, Wardha, and Yavatmal districts of Maharashtra reported damage to crops. Lightning related causalities were reported at Shahdol (Madhya Pradesh) on February 27. Heavy rain and landslides occurred on February 6 at Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and February 22 at Ramban (Jammu & Kashmir).

IMD’s maximum temperature probability forecast for northwest India was not accurate as it could not be predict below normal temperatures over the region in February due to frequent WDs passing over north and adjoining central India.

A WD is lying over northwest Afghanistan. It is likely to move eastwards. Its induced circulation is over SW Rajasthan at lower levels. There is high moisture feeding from Arabian Sea to northwest India and central India. Moisture incursion is likely to increase during March 1 and 2. Under its influence, widespread light/moderate rainfall accompanied with thunderstorms and lightning is likely over Western Himalayan Region till March 3.

Rainfall accompanied with thunderstorms, lightning & gusty winds (30-40 kmph gusting to 50 kmph) is likely over Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi; over Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and north Madhya Pradesh during March 1 to 3, IMD added.

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