IMD warns of heat waves, warmer than normal summer

The weather agency predicts central and north-western India will bear the brunt of the sun, while heat waves has struck several parts of the south

By Akshit Sangomla
Published: Tuesday 02 April 2019
Photo: Sankara Subramanian/Flickr

India’s central and north-western parts are headed for a hotter than normal summer season, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

On April 1, 2019, the IMD declared, “The April to June season’s average maximum temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal by 0.5 degree Celsius over most of the meteorological subdivisions from central India and some subdivisions from north-west India.”

It said the maximum temperatures will be above normal by 0.5-1.0 degree Celsius in Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, west and east Uttar Pradesh, east Rajasthan, west and east Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Maharashtra, Vidarbha, Marathwada, coastal Karnataka, north-interior Karnataka, Rayalaseema and Telangana.

Unwavering heat wave

The situation will be more severe in west Rajasthan, where minimum and mean temperatures will be above normal by 1 degree Celsius. The IMD has also predicted above normal heat wave conditions in regions that normally experience them or the core heat wave zone.

The heat waves have already struck many parts of the country. They started with Tamil Nadu, Rayalaseema, coastal Andhra Pradesh in early March.

On March 6, Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri station recorded a maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius, which is the highest March temperature ever recorded there. The previous record was 40 degrees Celsius — recorded in 1996.

In Andhra Pradesh, while two meteorological stations at Tirupathi and Cuddapah in the Rayalaseema region recorded maximum temperatures of 40.4 degrees Celsius and 40 degrees Celsius, five other stations recorded temperatures above 38 degree Celsius.

In late March, an unusual heat wave affected Kerala, taking weather forecasters by surprise. It has killed four people till date and almost 300 people have suffered from sun burns, according to media reports.

The local IMD, in fact, blamed the heat wave on El Nino. “Temperature rise of one degree Celsius above normal is usual in pre-monsoon summer. But this time, it is up by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius. We see the development of El Nino behind this,” Santhosh K, IMD Kerala director, had told Down to Earth. Now the heat waves have spread to Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha as well.

El Nino to blame?

The signs of a hot summer have been around for quite some time now, because of a developing El Nino phenomenon since August 2018.

Back then IMD had said the El Nino will not affect monsoon as it did not see the development of a full El Nino. Other forecasters had disagreed. The Australian Bureau of Meteorology (ABM), which tracks El Nino, had there was a 50 per cent chance of it forming in 2018.

El Nino is the unusual warming of the equatorial Pacific Ocean and disrupts global wind patterns affecting climatic conditions in tropical areas like Africa, sub-tropical areas like India as well as the extra-tropical areas like North America.

Then, on November 22, the IMD said moderate El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) conditions are currently prevalent in the equatorial Pacific Ocean region and the El Nino is likely to develop in the next two months.

Until the third week of March the IMD had maintained that “warm ENSO neutral conditions are prevailing over equatorial Pacific Ocean” and that they are likely to remain near to the El Nino threshold value during the next two months. But on March 29, they finally declared that weak El Nino conditions had begun and will likely continue for the early part of summer. This is when the weather agencies in the US and Japan had declared El Nino in January.

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