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An interview with the Director of India Met Department
It's becoming very difficult to predict the weather nowadays. The month of May which was supposed to be one the hottest months during summers, suddenly became cool in Delhi and surrounding areas. Some good rains brought down the temperature to a big extent. Now its again scorching heat in almost entire north India.

To get an idea of the possible weather condition ahead, we talked to Dr. L.S. Rathore, Director General of Meteorology at India Meteorological Department (IMD), Ministry of Earth Sciences.

Question (Q): How will you asses the present weather condition, not only in Delhi but across the country? Is such a temperature level, which is around 45 degree Celsius, normal?

Dr. L S RathoreDr. L.S. Rathore (LSR): All India Maximum temperature means are highest in the month of May followed by April. The average maximum temperature during summer season is around 42 degree C in west and Central India. The highest average daily temperature is around 42 degree C in many parts of Northwest India in the month of May. The present normal temperature of Delhi is 39 ? C. The temperatures tend to rise above normal by more than 5 ? C during a heat wave spell. At present due to prevailing heat wave the temperatures are very high and the highest recorded in the month of May is at Ganganagar- 45.9, Churu- 45.7, Hissar- 45.0, Khargone- 44.8, Agra- 44.7, Wardha and Delhi (Palam) 44.5.

Q: This time, the mercury is touching 40-42 degrees in Northern India, while Maharashtra and nearby states have already touched 45 degrees. So are there any chances of temperature touching the 50 degree Celsius mark this time?

LSR: In 2010 the temperatures had touched 45 ?C mark in a number of places in Gujarat, Rajasthan and central India, in a severe heat wave condition and they will touch this mark in some places in case of severe heat conditions this year also.

Q: How could be the weather condition in May and June?

LSR: As discussed earlier, May is the hottest month with a frequency of 2-3 heat wave conditions. June is also hot till the monsoon sets over that region. The high temperature and higher relative humidity in the month of June, due to approaching South-West Monsoon makes it very hot and uncomfortable.

Q: 'Nature climate change paper', a research done by Stanford University, reports that, more intense and more frequent but less intense dry spells will be recorded in India this time. Though the Met department has already indicated toward a below normal monsoon, but I would like to ask you, is there still any possibility of normal monsoon? When the monsoon could arrive?

LSR: As we have declared in the long range Forecast, Quantitatively, the monsoon seasonal rainfall is likely to be 95% of the Long Period Average (LPA) with a model error of ? 5%. The LPA of the season rainfall over the country as a whole for the period 1951-2000 is 89 cm.

Q: India which is 60 per cent population is dependent on agriculture and 70 per cent of the country?s exports are agricultural products. So, what is the advice that you will give to the farmers in the country?

LSR: The farmers are regularly given district wise advisory by our department twice in a week about the crop condition, prevailing weather and the medium range forecast for next 10 days. Operational weather services to farmers in India by IMD started since 1945 in the form of District AAS Bulletin issued twice a week.

Q: Are we going to face some extreme weather conditions, going ahead? If yes, what could be the possible image of those extreme conditions?

LSR: Extreme weather conditions are experienced every year and there are varying regional trends over the past few years as per various studies. In case of temperatures; some of them are :

a) On all India scale, hot, very hot and extremely hot days are increasing in all summer months suggesting hot days have become more common now.

b) Geographical distribution of trends suggests significant increase in hot days in North India in April and South India in March. Also hot, very hot and extremely hot days are significantly increasing over west coast of India in all summer months.

c) There is significant decrease in hot, very hot and extremely hot days over Indo Gangetic plains in the month of May.

d) Stations having extremely hot days are the highest in June when 80% of the total number of stations are having positive trends which may be due to erratic behaviour of onset of monsoon over India.

(hot days Tmax> 35 ?C ,very hot days Tmax> 40 ?C and extremely hot days Tmax> 43 ?C).

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