Amid a general warming trend across the globe, January in India this year turned out to be the third coldest winter month in India in the last 20 years. The monthly average of mean minimum temperatures over the country was 0.09°C below normal, according to data from the India Meteorology Department.
The normal mean minimum temperature for January, based on the baseline data over the period between 1971 and 2000 is 14.14°C. This is only for the third time in the last 20 years that minimum temperatures have slipped below the normal mark, the previous occasions being in 2011 (0.73°C below normal) and 2012 (0.13°C below).
January this year has been now the 84th coolest month in the temperature time series maintained by IMD since the 1800s.
Though the season was predicted to be warmer than previous winter seasons, night temperatures, particularly in January, were found to be anomalous. Anomaly temperature is the difference between the actual recorded temperature and the normal temperature.
The warmest winter year ever recorded so far remains 2009, when the minimum temperatures recorded was 1.46°C above normal. Warm winters next to that in the list, according to IMD, were during 1919 (1.29°C above normal) and 1958 (1.27°C above normal).
“Though the forecast was for a slightly warmer winter, data now reveals that January was cooler. Despite fewer incidents of cold wave conditions in north India and even fewer days of snowfall in Jammu & Kashmir and other neighbouring states in the north, the winter was cooler than normal,” said D S Pai, head, climate prediction at IMD’s climate research division.
However, maximum temperatures during this season, especially January, were warmer than normal, with the highest recording being 0.62°C above.
“North India this year had fewer days that experienced fog, thus making available clear sky conditions for sunlight penetration onto land. Thus, daytime remained warmer and also humid on many occasions than usually recorded all across the country,” said A K Srivastava , head of IMD’s climate monitoring and analysis division.
Warm day temperatures are also an indicator that there has been limited snowfall in the northern plains.
“Though we are yet to get the amount of actual snowfall, the northern hilly terrains may face water shortage as these areas largely depend upon the melting of snow accumulated during winter months for water. Its absence this year may have some effect in the upcoming summer months,” said senior IMD official.