Yeh Badalta Mausam: India hit by freak weather

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Yeh Badalta Mausam: India hit by freak weather

Saturday, 02 March 2024 | Pioneer News Service | NEW DELHI

Yeh Badalta Mausam: India hit by freak weather

India is expected to witness high minimum temperatures in March, sounding alarms for the vital wheat crop, as the India Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts above-average day and night temperatures from March through May across the nation, attributed to El Niño conditions. Exceptions are noted in isolated regions of the northwest, northeast, central, and peninsular India, sparking concerns for agricultural yields.

This could impact agricultural activities and crop growth, particularly for wheat. The minimum or night temperatures are also likely to be above normal over most parts of the country, the IMD said on Friday.

According to the IMD, the first half of March may see above-normal rainfall in north-western parts of the country, while the second half is likely to experience higher-than-normal temperatures.

Monthly maximum temperatures for March are expected to be above normal over most areas of peninsular India, the northeast, the west central region, and the northwest. Normal to below-normal maximum temperatures are likely to persist over most parts of east and east-central India and some parts of northwest India. During the season (March, April, and May), above-normal minimum temperatures are most likely over most parts of the country.

IMD director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said at a press conference that India is likely to see above-normal maximum and minimum temperatures in most parts of the country during the “Hot Weather Season 2024” between March and May, with El Niño conditions predicted to continue through the summer season and neutral conditions likely to develop thereafter.  The El Niño conditions in 2023 ed to patchy and erratic monsoon in 2023, reducing India’s foodgrain production by 6.1 per cent in the 2023-24 crop year (July-June).

“During March, April, and May, an 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,” he said.

According to the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), when the daily maximum temperature exceeds the normal maximum temperature by 5°C at a particular location for more than five consecutive days, the condition is known as a heatwave, with the normal period being the 30-year mean (e.g., during 1961-90).

“The IMD said night 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. This could impact agricultural activities and crop growth, particularly for wheat.”

The country is expected to record above-normal rainfall in March, exceeding 117 per cent of the long-period average of 29.9 mm. India is likely to experience above-normal maximum and minimum temperatures in most parts of the country from March to May. Heatwave conditions are not expected over north and central India in March.

Mohapatra said the prevailing El Niño conditions - the periodic warming of waters in the central Pacific Ocean - will continue through the summer season, with neutral conditions likely to develop thereafter. La Niña conditions, generally associated with good monsoon rainfall in India, are expected to set in by the second half of the monsoon season.

The IMD also forecasted that an active western disturbance is expected to impact the Western Himalayan region and northern plains from Friday until Sunday. It recommended that farmers make necessary arrangements for draining out excess water from crop fields to avoid water stagnation in Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Punjab.

Authorities are advised to provide mechanical support to horticultural crops and staking to vegetables in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and North Rajasthan.

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