North to stay cold for another week!

By ZRG | Updated: Jan 07, 2013, 21:45 PM IST

Ankita Chakrabarty/Zee Research Group

Intense cold and foggy conditions continue to grip the whole of North India with mercury plummeting to season’s lowest one degree Celsius in the national capital Delhi on Monday. But mercifully South remains untouched yet while North too might breathe easy in a week’s time.

While Delhiwallahs are braving the onslaught of one of the chilliest winters in years, weather God hasn’t been very kind to other North Indian cities like Ambala, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jaisalmer, Kanpur, Lucknow, Shimla and Sri Nagar. The bigger cause for concern is that the number of days with ‘below normal’ day and night temperatures is steadily going up. Are these initial symptoms of climatic shift occurring on the planet?

There are ominous signs as the year has witnessed a drop in the maximum temperatures across North India. Delhi broke its own record of 44 years on January 2, 2013, when its maximum temperature fell below 10 degree Celsius.

The average mean maximum temperature in the month of January in Delhi is usually recorded at 20.8 degree Celsius, however in 2013 (as on January 3rd 2013); Delhi recorded the maximum temperature at 15 degree Celsius, approximately five degrees below normal. Agra, Amritsar and Chandigarh were few other North Indian cities which followed in suit by witnessing a drop in the maximum temperatures of six degrees below normal. The maximum temperatures recorded at Agra, Amritsar and Chandigarh were 14, 13 and 14 degree Celsius respectively on January 3rd 2013.

Weather scientists, however, dismiss the cold phenomenon as nothing more than seasonal in its impact. Explaining the reasons behind the drop in maximum temperatures, M. Durai Swamy, scientist at Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi said, “This condition is mainly because of north –westerly winds coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Cold and dry winds coming from these areas have resulted in the drop in maximum temperatures. This phenomenon is a usual thing occurring in winter season across North India.”

Weather conditions will normalise sooner than later. “This trend is expected to continue for one more week”, predicts Swamy at IMD, Delhi.

What should intrigue weathermen, however, is the drop in the temperatures in the country’s western port cities especially Mumbai. India’s financial capital recorded the season’s lowest on January 4, 2013. The minimum temperature dropped to 12.6 degree Celsius, approximately four degrees below normal last Friday.

However, the two other metropolitan cities, Chennai and Kolkata did not fall under the spell of the cold waves and recorded so far normal temperatures as expected in the month of January. The maximum temperature recorded in Chennai on January 7, 2013 was 30 degree Celsius and the minimum stood at 22 degree Celsius. Kolkata recorded 24 degree Celsius as maximum temperature on January 7, 2013 and the figure for minimum was recorded at 14 degree Celsius respectively.

Highlighting other variables that could have impacted Indian winters, Indrajit Bose, deputy program manager climate change at Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), an environment focus non-governmental organisation, said, “Climate is changing as there is an increase in the extreme weather events like flood, drought and sea levels. In the last ten years, incidences of extreme weather conditions have increased. Monsoon has become unpredictable affecting the whole cycle. Also, pollution levels and energy consumption have increased adding more fears to the current scenario.”