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La Niña, which played crucial part in severe winter conditions in north India, is likely to prevail for next 6 months

La Niña seemed to have played a critical role in influencing the country’s weather in 2020 which was a second consecutive year of above normal rainfall with below normal temperatures in the winter and less occurrence of heatwaves.

The year also saw formation of five cyclones in the seas along eastern and western sides. Of the five, four were “severe cyclonic storms" and above.

La Niña conditions played an important factor in having a good monsoon and severe winter conditions in parts of north India.La Niña is associated with the cooling of the Pacific waters—El Niño is antithesis to it. It is generally observed that a La Niña year also receives good rainfall and winter temperatures are lower than normal.

December to February are peak winter months in the country. The severe cold day conditions in parts of north India that began in December of 2019 also continued in January this year, India Meteorological Department (IMD) director general M. Mohapatra said.

The trend of cold to severe cold day conditions also continued later in October, November as well December. Several parts of north India recorded below normal temperatures from October to December, he said.On the other hand, the summer also saw few instances of heat waves that affect large portions of the country from April to June, Mohapatra added.

He attributed the low frequency of heatwaves to frequent western disturbances—cyclonic circulation that originates in the Mediterranean Sea, traverses across Central Asia, and brings non-monsoon rains to northwest India during the winters.

This year, the frequency of western disturbances was unusually high and continued even during the summer. The year 2020 was also the third to record highest precipitation in the last 30 years.

Southwest Monsoon arrived over Kerala on 1 June, its normal onset date. The official monsoon season starts from 1 June to 30 September.The country received 109% rainfall of the Long Period Average (LPA) with three of four months—June (118%), August (127%) and September (104%)—witnessing above normal rainfall, while July recorded (90%) deficient rainfall. Generally, the country receives maximum rainfall in July and August.

One of the main features of the monsoon was the rainfall in August. The month saw five low pressure areas (cyclonic circulations) that brought large amount of rainfall over central India.

Mohapatra said La Niña conditions are likely to prevail for the next six months.

The IMD in its winter forecast for December 2020 and January February 2021 also predicted below normal temperatures in north India.

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