For the third consecutive year, winter in the country was warmer and drier than normal. Mean temperatures for January-February 2018 were 0.53°C higher than the normal of 22.17°C for this period. February itself was the 12th warmest in the last 118 years.
So far, 2006 has witnessed the warmest winter in over a century. According to the winter’s mean temperature anomaly data calculated by India Meteorological Department (IMD) for the period between 2006 and 2018, the anomalies fluctuated in the range 0.53°C to 1.4°C, the latter being the 2006 departure from normal.
The winter closed warmer than normal even though areas along Gangetic West Bengal, Bihar, eastern Uttar Pradesh, Odisha and Vidarbha had experienced prolonged chilly conditions this season, with the cold spells sometimes lasting as long as 20 days at a stretch. Although regions along central India and the eastern coast experienced cold days, especially in February, other regions remained warm.
“This year, there were ample days that offered clear-sky conditions as most of the western disturbances, which were anyway fewer this season, mostly passed through the extreme northern latitudes. As a result, North India experienced fog for fewer and shorter durations. Snowfall and rainy days over extreme northern regions, like Jammu & Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, too, were a handful, making it a dry winter,” said A K Srivastava, head (climate monitoring and analysis) at IMD.
The winters of 2016, 2017 and now 2018 have witnessed both maximum and minimum temperatures rising significantly higher than what is normal. In the southern peninsula, for instance, both the maximum and the minimum were a notch above the normal.
“ Along with the jet stream observed to pass over northern latitudes, the southern peninsula remained dominated by strong and moist easterly winds. The absence of northerly winds to counter it made both day and night times warmer,” said Srivastava.