Heatwaves likely from March to May: IMD forecast

Elevated temperatures this summer threaten wheat yields; farmers asked to irrigate or initiate soil treatment to conserve moisture

Updated - March 01, 2023 09:18 am IST

Published - February 28, 2023 08:06 pm IST - NEW DELHI

A woman and child cool off in the ocean sparkling in the sunlight in Fort Kochi. File

A woman and child cool off in the ocean sparkling in the sunlight in Fort Kochi. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu

Expect a searing summer with “above normal” temperatures forecast by the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Tuesday in most of northeast, eastern, central India and parts of northwest India.

Heatwaves during March-May are likely in most parts of India, except for the northeastern States, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala and coastal Karnataka, according to an accompanying forecast map by the department.

Accentuating the heat is the lack of rainfall. “Below normal rainfall is most likely over most areas of northwest India, west central India and some parts of east & northeast India. Normal to above normal rainfall is likely over most parts of peninsular India, east central India and some isolated pockets of northeast India,” the IMD communique noted.

Also read | Explained | IMD is already sensing heat waves. What are they and why do they happen?

February temperature hit record levels, with many parts of north and western India reporting 35-39 degree Celsius, or about 3-5 degrees above what is normal for this time of the year, and the IMD’s latest advisory suggests that these conditions are likely to persist over the coming months.

Currently, La Nina conditions— or below normal temperatures— are prevailing over the equatorial Pacific region. The La Nina is likely to weaken and turn to El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), ‘neutral conditions’ during the pre-monsoon season, the IMD forecast noted. La Nina conditions are associated with better monsoon rains with El Nino conditions linked to reduced monsoon rains, particularly in northwest India.

Also read | Early warning for heatwaves sees huge improvement

La Nina conditions have persisted for nearly three years leading to above normal rains in India since 2019. La Nina and El Nino conditions are cyclical in nature and while El Nino conditions are expected to emerge, a full picture can emerge only after March when global climate models can better capture such changes.

The elevated temperatures threaten wheat yields with the IMD last week issuing advisories to farmers to either irrigate or initiate soil treatment to conserve moisture.

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