Pre-monsoon rain deficiency hits states
- Western and eastern Uttar Pradesh registered a deficiency of 93 per cent while Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi reported a shortage of 68 per cent during the same period, the IMD noted.
The pre-monsoon season (March, April and May) has so far remained extremely dry in most parts of the country, the Indian Meterological Department (IMD) has said. While northwest India reported a rain deficiency of 43 per cent between March 1 and April 12, Uttarakhand recorded a deficiency of 78 per cent.
Likewise, western and eastern Uttar Pradesh registered a deficiency of 93 per cent while Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi reported a shortage of 68 per cent during the same period, the weather body noted.
“It hasn’t rained at all in the plains during this season. There was light rain and thunderstorm activity in the first week of April but it was very light. Even though four western disturbances have affected the Western Himalayan region this month, their impact has been limited to the upper reaches. It has been so dry that the relative humidity in Delhi yesterday was only 31 per cent in the morning when it is supposed to be the highest and only 17 per cent in the evening,” Kuldeep Shrivastava, head, regional weather forecasting centre, said.
IMD Pune’s Standard Precipitation Index for March and first week of April suggested that almost the entire northwest India and Indo-Gangetic Plains region remained mildly to moderately dry between April 1 and 7. The country as a whole recorded a rain deficiency of 42 per cent between March 1 and April 12 with 54 per cent rain deficiency over the southern peninsula, 30 per cent over the central region and 39 per cent over northeast and east India.
It is this rain deficiency that has led to several forest fires in Uttarakhand and high dust and particulate matter (PM) levels over the northern plains.
Approximately, 8,550 forest fires have been recorded in Uttarakhand alone between April 1 and 12, according to data provided by Forest Survey of India’s Fire Alert System.
According to officials at Forest Survey of India (FSI), a large number of forest fires are due to man-made factors as well as the dry spell. “Forest fires in large numbers and extent in Uttarakhand are mainly a result of manmade fires and high fuel load on the forest floor. Due to dry spells and high temperatures, the fuel load increases. There are fallen dry leaves and twigs which act as fuel whenever there is a small ignition. If the fuel load is high, then obviously the fires will last longer. Lack of soil moisture and heat helps ignite fire quickly,” Sunil Chandra, deputy director (Forest Geoinformatics Division) of FSI, explained.
However, a fresh disturbance is likely to affect the Western Himalayan region between April 14 and 17. It is likely to cause scattered to fairly widespread rainfall with thunderstorm, lightning and gusty winds over the Western Himalayan region during this period and isolated light rainfall with thunderstorm, lightning and gusty winds over the adjoining plains between April 15 and 17.