According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), most parts of India, except for some areas in the northwest and peninsular region, are expected to experience above-normal maximum temperatures from April to June. The IMD predicts that above-normal heatwave days are likely in most parts of central, east, and northwest India during this period. IMD Director General Mrutyunjay Mahapatra stated that a significantly higher number of heatwave days are predicted over parts of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Punjab, and Haryana.
India experienced its hottest February this year since record-keeping began in 1901, but above-normal rainfall due to seven western disturbances kept temperatures in check in March. The IMD noted that normal to above-normal minimum temperatures are very likely over most parts of the country, except for some areas in northeast and northwest India and isolated pockets of the peninsular region.
The country is expected to see normal rainfall in April, with normal to above-normal precipitation predicted over most parts of northwest, central, and peninsular region. Below-normal rain is expected in east and northeast India. La Nina conditions, which favor the Indian monsoon by cooling the waters in the Pacific Ocean near South America, have weakened. The IMD forecasts ENSO neutral conditions from April to June and a transition to El Niño favored by July-September, with chances of El Niño increasing through the fall. El Niño is associated with the weakening of monsoon winds and less rainfall in India.
However, several models indicate the development of a positive Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) in the coming months. The Bureau of Meteorology model also indicates the development of positive IOD by May 2023. A positive IOD is considered good for the Indian monsoon, which accounts for around 70% of the country’s annual rainfall and irrigates 60% of its net sown area. Nearly half of the population depends on agriculture directly or indirectly.
At least 100 weather stations across the country reported heavy rain events, the highest since 2018. The prolonged spell of pre-monsoon rain, thunderstorms, hailstorms, and lightning strikes damaged crops in many parts of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and other states. The mango crop in the country has been damaged up to 20% due to the untimely rains, hailstorm, and strong wind, according to senior officials at the Indian Council for Agricultural Research.
The Centre For Policy Research (CPR) recently stated that a review of 37 heat action plans in India shows most of them do not explicitly carry out vulnerability assessments, leaving the authorities with little data on where to direct their scarce resources. Heat action plans prescribe a number of activities, disaster responses, and post-heatwave response measures to reduce the impact of heatwaves.