A cold wave has gripped parts of north India over the past few weeks, with trains and flights being delayed due to fog and low visibility. On January 13, 2023, the Indian Met Department (IMD) predicted a fresh spell of "dense to very dense fog" from Saturday, with another bout of cold wave returning from Sunday, January 15.
It also predicted rainfall and snowfall over the Western Himalayan region that includes Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. However, on January 12, several media reports suggested that north India would be plunged into a "never seen" before cold wave with temperatures dipping to as low as -4 degrees in some parts.
BOOM spoke to weather experts who said that a dip in the temperature is expected owing to the Western disturbances, but it won't be as drastic as is being reported.
What was reported?
On Thursday, several media reports, such as NDTV, ANI, and Times Now, said that north India would be gripped in an intense cold wave starting this Saturday. ANI reported that north India was set to "experience a drop in temperatures" to a minimum of -4 degrees and a maximum of 2 degrees Celcius. Citing a tweet by a weather expert, the ANI report said that north India would witness cold wave between January 14 and 19 and would be at its peak from January 16 to 18.
"Don't know how to put this up but the upcoming spell of #Coldwave in #India look really extreme during 14-19th January 2023 with peak on 16-18th, Never seen a temperature ensemble going this low in a prediction model so far in my career. Freezing -4°c to +2°c in plains, Wow! (sic)," weather expert Navdeep Dahiya tweeted.
Dahiya also wrote in Firstpost predicting that 2023 could be one of the coldest years. "Currently the top-notch weather models are pointing towards fridge and biting cold conditions in Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan where minimum temperature can dip as low as -1 to -4°c, Delhi NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh stations are expected to register lows in the range of 3 to – 1°c the outskirts of National Capital region might be freezing in sub-zero temperatures,"
Sub-zero temperatures are an unusual phenomenon in the plains, though temperatures do plunge several degrees below zero in hilly areas like J&K during winters.
What experts told BOOM found
BOOM spoke to weather experts to understand cold waves in north India and the record dip in the mercury being predicted.
"There will be a dip in temperatures owing to Western disturbances, but not as drastic as is being said. The temperature in plains is highly unlikely to fall to -4 degrees Celcius," GP Sharma, President Skymet, told BOOM.
Sharma explained that January is the peak of winter in north India with the first half of the month being colder than the second half. "The temperature can fall to zero degrees mostly in arid regions of Rajasthan, Punjab and Haryana," he said, adding that the cold wave is unlikely to be as frigid as it was in the first half of January.
Speaking on the low temperatures being recorded in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra, Sharma said that it was the impact of the weather systems in the north that is being seen in parts of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
Meteorologist and researcher Akshay Deoras said that while cold waves during this time of the season are a normal phenomenon, the reduced frequency of the cold waves over the years is a matter of concern. "This could be a result of climate change," Deoras said.
Talking about the predictions of temperatures falling to sub-zero levels, Deoras said that since there is no source of the model in the tweet given, the predictions can't be considered fool-proof. "Besides, the event is a couple of days away, so biases in model predictions can't be ignored. Nevertheless, minimum temperatures will fall after the western disturbance effect," he added.
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