Delhi winter may be over, says IMD


Winter is all but over, experts and officials said on Thursday as the Capital recorded a peak temperature of 29.4°C, a whopping six degrees more than what is normal for this time of the year.

Typically, winter conditions – chilly mornings and a nip in the air even in peak afternoon – last till at least the second or third week of February, but this has been changing recently with the year 2019 recording a high of 28.7°C on January 20, and 2021 logging 30.4°C on February 10.

“We are seeing western disturbances in northwest India, but none of them have impacted the plains, including Delhi-NCR… While we may see another between February 12 and 13, that too will mainly impact north Punjab, so no significant temperature dip is expected, which is associated with the winter,” said Naresh Kumar, spokesperson of the India Meteorological Department, stating the chill associated with the winters was over.

A western disturbance is a warm, moist system of winds that originates over the Mediterranean Sea and travels eastward over parts of the Middle East to reach India, where it often causes rain when it hits the Himalayan mountain ranges. A strong enough western disturbance also leads to precipitation over the northern plains.

These winds disrupt the normal flow from the northwesterly direction, which bring in a cold draft from the mountains and when they do not bring rain, can create warm conditions.

Kumar said the western disturbances between February 2 and 3 only impacted the Himalayan range as did a second spell in the month, between February 8 and 9.

Consequently, the day felt warm on Thursday, and similar conditions are expected to remain for the coming days.

“Clear skies are expected to continue in the region and in the absence of cold, northwesterly winds, Delhi will record a similar maximum. It is likely Delhi could cross 30°C at Safdarjung on Friday,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD, stating an early rise in the first half of February was unusual and such trends are generally seen in the second half of the month.

Since 2011, the earliest for which IMD data was available, the maximum breached 29°C only in March in six of the 12 years.

M Mohapatra, director general, IMD, said till February 15, the maximum will hover between 25 and 30 degrees, while the minimum will oscillate between 9 and 12 degrees. “We will not see the kind of chill associated with winters in the coming days, even if the minimum dips to 9 degrees Celsius. Normally, that cold is associated with a low minimum and in the absence of any active western disturbance, it will not go below 9 degrees, so the winter cold is over for the region,” he said.

After Pitampura, at 30.3°C, Safdarjung and Lodhi Road were Delhi’s warmest locations on Thursday, with both recording a high of 29.4°C. The Ridge and Delhi University stations recorded a maximum of 29.3°C and 29.2°C respectively. The minimum at Safdarjung – considered as the official reading for the Capital – was 8.6°C, one degree below normal.

Delhi recorded a slight dip in wind speed, leading to the air quality returning to the poor range. The overall air quality index (AQI) was 212 as per Central Pollution Control Board’s national bulletin at 4 pm on Thursday. In comparison, Delhi’s AQI was 144 (moderate) on Wednesday, the Capital’s cleanest air day since October 13.

Forecasts by the Early Warning System (EWS) for Delhi, a model under the ministry of earth sciences, shows Delhi’s AQI is likely to remain poor till February 11, before it improves to the moderate range on February 12.

The receding of the winter this year comes after 2022 saw an early summer. Last year, the Capital recorded a maximum temperature of 39.1°C as early as on March 29, while other city stations — such as Narela and Pitampura — crossed 40°C on the same day.

According to IMD data, the all-time record for a high in February was in 2006 when on the 26th of the month, the maximum was recorded at 34.1°C.

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