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Explained: Why is North India feeling the heat? Is the winter over?

The Indian Express logo The Indian Express 17-02-2021 Anjali Marar
a group of people in a field © Provided by The Indian Express

After continuous cold conditions experienced all through January and the beginning of February, the plains over North India reported a sharp shift in temperatures since last week. This has triggered apprehensions that the cold season is ending soon and the summers are going to start early.

How has the weather over North India been in 2021?

Cold conditions dominated both the plains and hilly regions in North and Northwest India this season. Though the average monthly minimum temperature recorded over the country in January remained the warmest in 62 years, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Jammu and Kashmir experienced prolonged severe cold conditions. The national capital and neighbouring areas also reported sporadic rainfall in the first week of the new year.

However unlike the winter of 2020, not many cold day conditions were recorded during this season. In January, there were fewer and feeble western disturbances across lower latitudes. “The effects of western disturbances were mostly limited to hilly regions in January,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist at the National Weather Forecasting Centre, New Delhi.

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Why has there been a sudden rise in temperatures?

In the absence of cold wave and cold day conditions over the plains of north India, temperatures began to soar. Delhi, Dehradun and many locations in both the plains and the hills recorded significantly above normal day temperatures for this time of the year.

On February 11, New Delhi recorded 30.4 degrees Celsius, which was 7.7 degrees above normal (see box).

table © Provided by The Indian Express Temperatures (in degree Celsius) over New Delhi (Safdarjung) during February 9 – 16, 2021

“The dominance of the prevailing easterly waves and presence of multiple weather systems over Central India is preventing the cold waves from reaching the northern parts of India. That is why, temperatures have seen a sharp rise, with departures ranging between 5 to 7 degrees from normal,” said Jenamani.

How will these weather systems affect the cold conditions?

Due to the presence of multiple weather systems and their confluence with moist easterly winds expected over Central India during the next three days, thunderstorm is forecast over this region till February 19.

Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh along with parts of Vidarbha, Marathwada, South Interior Karnataka, Jharkhand and Odisha will experience light intensity rainfall accompanied by lightning. Some parts of Maharashtra could see hailstorm during the next two to three days.

As a result, no significant cold conditions would prevail over the country, except Jammu and Kashmir till February 20.

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Is the winter season over?

IMD identifies January and February as winter months over India. Even though the temperatures would remain on the higher side till February 20, the winter season is not over yet, the IMD officials said.

A fresh western disturbance is expected to cross extreme north India on February 20. This system will bring rainfall or snowfall over Jammu and Kashmir.

a man riding a snowboard down a snow covered slope: snowfall, snowfall in kashmir, jammu kashmir, kashmir snowfall, cold wave, winters, indian express news © Provided by The Indian Express snowfall, snowfall in kashmir, jammu kashmir, kashmir snowfall, cold wave, winters, indian express news Snowfall in Srinagar in February 2021 (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi)

Once it passes, there is a marginal drop of around 2 to 3 degrees likely over Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh areas starting February 22 onwards. It would not be a very cold spell, but would be a respite from the present warm conditions.

With the winter season nearing its end for this year, the seasonal transition is expected to commence soon.

With that, a gradual rise in minimum temperatures by 2 to 4 degree Celsius over North and Northwest India is expected after February 25. The day temperatures, too, shall soar in the coming days and remain between 22 to 30 degrees, except over Jammu and Kashmir, Shimla and places of higher altitudes.

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