India Witness Third Warmest Winter Despite La Niña
By: IBM Weather
After repeated bouts of cold waves in December and January, many parts of India witnessed a sudden temperature rise in February, perhaps as a preview of the upcoming intense summers. In northern states, including Delhi, fans and air conditioners buzzed back to life much earlier than normal this year as the mercury levels rose to unprecedented highs.
As per the latest records from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the country witnessed its third warmest winter this year as the mean temperature remained 0.78°C above normal in January and February.
Warming during La Niña
Only during the winters of 2016 and 2009, India has recorded warmer mean temperatures than this, and both these years were El Niño years. The peculiarity of winter 2021 being among the warmest despite the Pacific being in the La Niña phase has raised concerns.
“For India, this was the 3rd warmest winter in 120 years. This was a La Niña season that should have a cooling effect on global temperatures—but this is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, La Niña years are now warmer than past years with El Niño,” explained leading scientist Roxy Mathew Koll from the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology on Twitter.
The nighttimes were even warmer across the country with an average minimum temperature of 0.8°C above normal—only second to 2016. A maximum anomaly of 0.94°C was observed in northwest India, which includes Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Ladakh and Rajasthan. While all other parts of the country also remained warmer-than-normal, the southern peninsula witnessed the least warming of 0.6°C.
Second-warmest February for northwest India
File photo: Clouds hover over at Rajpath during the summer of 2020.
(Yogesh Kumar/TOI, BCCL, Delhi)
With average daytime temperatures of 24.4°C, northwest India witnessed extremely hot February days this year. The mean maximum temperature was 2.94°C warmer-than-normal during February 2021 across northwest India.
The average February temperatures across northwest India were 2.11°C above normal, making last month the second warmest February on record since 1901. Only 2006 witnessed warmer temperatures than this year, with an anomaly of 2.62°C. Even rainfall across northwest India remained subdued with less than 50% of the normal rainfall in January and February.
Even Delhi recorded a mean maximum of 27.9°C, which is the second-highest for the month since 1901. Before this, the highest mean maximum temperature was recorded in February 2006 at 29.7°C for Delhi. The normal maximum temperature for February is 23.9°C, which sometimes fluctuates up to 25°C. As against this mean temperature, February 2021’s average daytime mercury level was four degrees higher than the normal.
While those who hate winter chills might have cherished a warm February, such high temperatures during winters have multiple impacts. Warmer winters are often associated with widespread crop damage, especially wheat, apple and strawberries. A milder winter can also pose health concerns as they increase the odds of vector-borne disease spells by being conducive for mosquito breeding.