Mahabaleshwar may soon lose its tag of being the ‘hill station’ of Maharashtra, as winter completely eluded this town in Satara district this year. Except for some days in January, in three other months – November, December and March — Mahabaleshwar remained warm just like any other urban city, observed weather experts. Other cities in the state that missed the usual winter ‘chill’ include Pune and Mumbai, which only had a handful of cold days, noted experts at the India Meteorology Department (IMD), Pune. This year, the monthly minimum temperatures for these cities were higher than normal by anywhere between 1 degrees Celsius to 4 degrees Celsius throughout the season.
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According to scientists at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), the difference between the maximum and the minimum temperature in Mahabaleshwar seems to be shrinking. “Though the exact reasons can’t be stated, it appears that local synoptic conditions appear to be influencing temperatures here,” G Pandidurai, senior IITM scientist and head of High Altitude Cloud Physics Laboratory (HACPL) told The Indian Express.
Located in Mahabaleshwar, this lab is responsible for undertaking dedicated studies on cloud physics and local orographic influencing rains. Interestingly, the numbers reveal that winter ended in most cities in January itself, and February seemed to have an almost summer-like feel. The average minimum temperature for Mumbai touched 21.6 degrees Celsius, when the 50-year average for the city was 17.7 degrees Celsius. Mahabaleshwar and Pune also experienced a warm February, with the average night temperature spiking by 2 degrees Celsius and 1 degrees Celsius, respectively, this winter.
According to experts at IMD, there was a continuous inflow of warm easterly winds during January and February, nullifying the effect of cold northerly winds in parts of central and west India, including Maharashtra. “Since warm easterly waves, otherwise observed during post north-east monsoon period in December, lingered, the temperatures largely remained high,” explained senior IMD scientist P C S Rao. For the first time in nearly a decade, the day temperatures in Mumbai during winter touched the 40 degrees Celsius mark. In the last week of February, the Met department declared heat wave conditions over Konkan.
“ Heat wave conditions are common in the peak of summer, mostly in May or some time in June, over parts of north India. But temperatures along the west coast of Maharashtra soared and was found inching close to 40 degrees Celsius, thereby being declared as heat wave,” explained a senior official from IMD.