Topsy-turvy and troubling weather patterns - GulfToday

Topsy-turvy and troubling weather patterns

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


Picture used for illustrative purpose only.

Scorching heat waves, then deafening thunderstorms – India’s weather woes continue even as the country is attempting to open up after a series of lockdowns.

While many parts of northwest, central and the adjoining east India were burning last week due to high temperatures, states like Kerala and Karnataka were reeling under savage thunderstorms.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the prevailing dry northwesterly winds over the northwestern plains, central India, and the adjoining interior parts of eastern India were responsible for the ongoing heat wave conditions.

While the 20 warmest years recorded globally were in the last 22 years, experts believe that the 2020 could be another year of record heat. Earlier this year, in its seasonal forecast, the IMD had predicted that average maximum temperatures from March to May 2019 will be warmer than normal in most parts of India, especially in the northwest region.

The forecast indicated a strong possibility of heat wave conditions over some parts, with severe heat wave conditions. The Weather Channel (WC) had predicted that abnormal temperature rise – phenomena wherein both maximum and minimum temperatures are extremely higher than normal – was expected in the Trans Himalayas and the Western Himalayan region. It added that scientists and experts believe that when it comes to the rapid rise in temperature this summer season, this year could be the hottest.

A report by Hindi language publication Hindustan corroborates this citing a team of experts at the International Center for Climate Change and Development. According to the report, the worst heat will affect many countries falling in the northern hemisphere which include nations like India and Bangladesh. It also predicted heatwave conditions to intensify in the coming weeks.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s‘2020 global annual temperature ranking outlook’ had warned that there is over 74% chance for this year to be the warmest ever since the measurements began.

But soon unseasonal thunderstorms and rainfall lashed the national capital Delhi bringing relief from the heatwave conditions prevailing in the region.

These thunderstorms almost seemed like echoes from the farthest end of the country. Heavy thunder and blinding rains accompanied by strong winds have lashed Kerala and Karnataka this month and caused mayhem. The Kerala government had banned fishing activities as it believed these weather conditions could develop into depressions leading to the sea turning very rough.

True enough, just days after the Super Cyclone Amphan hit West Bengal and Bangladesh, two more low-pressure areas were brewing. One developing low-pressure over the southeast Arabian Sea is likely to stay much closer to the western coast of India. This low-pressure area is expected to concentrate further into a depression. Earlier this month, India and Bangladesh bore the brunt of super cyclone Amphan which caused havoc in states like Odisha and West Bengal in India.

If the system intensifies into a cyclone, it will be named Nisarga, as per the naming guidelines set by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The name Nisarga is suggested by Bangladesh and will be the first to be used from the new list of names for North Indian Ocean Cyclones released in 2020. Amphan was the last name from the old list that was published in 2004.The guidelines issued by the WMO states that the countries in concerned regions must name storms in any ocean basin. For the north Indian Ocean, that includes the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, 13 countries suggest the names, including India.

Researchers believe that, since the sea surface temperatures are higher than normal over the Arabian Sea, there is enough energy to make this the second cyclone of the 2020 North Indian Ocean cyclone season after Amphan. However, as of now, the risk to the western coast of India remains low.

Similarly, experts fear that a powerful storm could slow the progress of monsoon to other parts of the country and lead to significant rainfall deficit in June. In June 2019, India witnessed a 33% deficit in rainfall, however, the overall accumulation in monsoon 2019 was 10% excess—highest in the last 25 years. However, current IMD predictions indicate normal rainfall over the country as a whole from June to September. Seasonal rainfall is likely to be 100% of the Long Period Average (LPA).

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