PUNE: This month is heading to be the driest January in the country as a whole since record-keeping began in 1901. Just 2.2mm of average rain was recorded across India till January 24. IMD officials said the figure is unlikely to change much as it has hardly rained since then and there’s little in store in the next few days.
The normal January rain across India is 19.2mm. India Meteorological Department (IMD) data spanning the past 117 years reveals that the driest January so far was in 2007, when 2.8mm rain was recorded. January 2018 is likely to be lower.
Winter rain and snow is not only important for rabi crops but also for recharge of underground aquifers and Himalayan glaciers.
January this year has seen record low rainfall across the country because the path of western disturbances, which bring cold and wet weather into north India, has been more northerly than usual, met officials said.
Most of these systems, instead of moving along north Rajasthan and Punjab, swept through northern Jammu and Kashmir. As a result, they had little impact on the weather in north India.
Rain in the winter season also plays an important role in cleansing the air. Pollution usually peaks during this time of the year as the mercury plunges.
“Rain from the northeast monsoon usually ceases during the first week of January, with peninsula India witnessing a drop in rainfall activity in the month. Rain in northwest India in January is a result of an interaction between easterly troughs and western disturbances,” an IMD official told TOI.
“Instances of this interactions were missing this year even though a good number of western disturbances passed the region. The interaction took place just once, during January 23-24. It rained in some parts of northwest India then,” he added.
Incidentally, three of the seven driest months of January since 1901 have come since year 2000. Apart from this year and 2007, also figuring in the list is 2001, which recorded just 6.5mm of rain countrywide during the month.
Said J R Kulkarni, retired meteorologist and All India Internet Weather Radio Station founder, “The general wind circulation goes in to two phases — even and undulating. When the circulation is even, there is no interaction between the mid-latitude and tropical air, which happened this time. As a result, it rained less.”
Kulkarni said during the wake of a western disturbance, cold wave and thick fog conditions prevail over north India. “These conditions were witnessed only at the beginning of January. After January 24, there has been no significant addition to the month’s rainfall quota. No intense rain activity is expected in the coming days too,” he said.