There was no let-up in the adverse weather pre-monsoon activity over various parts of the country. East and North-East India along with Odisha and Chhattisgarh remained the soft targets. April, the second consecutive month of pre-monsoon was rain surplus. The cumulative rainfall for 2 months from 1st March to 30th of April was in excess by 25% for the country. Continued unseasonal rainfall eluded northern plains from the extreme heat.
Lockdown has been extended till 17th of May though with some dilutions. India has doubled down on hot spots in the last 15 days. The virus is still ruffling feathers in many of the hot spots and red zones and continues to be hostile to many. There is a reason to fret for the government. An infected person could remain asymptomatic but a source of infecting others. The COVID-19 case share of top 10 cities has increased from 32% to 55%. Massive testing during the lockdown is the key to build herd immunity against COVId-19 and we are still far away from it. Transportation (Rail, Road, Air) has a potential risk until the entire population is cured or tested. But the diluted lockdown has raised hopes of resumption of scheduled commercial flights after May 17th.
Lockdown has hit hard the other health services – be it children and ladies missing scheduled immunizations, curtailed OPDs, restricted in-patient, etc focus of overall wellbeing is getting compromised. Restricted movement along with a difficult procedure for a common patient to reach the Doctor or the hospital is not user friendly. As a result, the chronic patients for other ailments are left to fend for themselves.
Role of weather for survival and persistence of virus remains controversial. The mutating virus seems to decay faster in a hot and humid environment. While summery conditions may impair the ability of the virus to survive on surfaces but that does not block it from being contagion.
Farmers across India are saddled with large stocks of wheat, pulses and oilseeds because of the hardships during the lockdown. Now Rabi harvest is drawing to a close but delayed procurement is risky for farmers especially for those having inadequate storage facility. Hapless farmers are facing a long wait to sell their winter harvest.
Punjab is set to record a bumper wheat production this season. The state has set a record of procuring 2.8 million metric tonnes of wheat in the initial 10 days. The state has demanded incentive or bonus to farmers for bringing their produce after 30th April to check overcrowding at markets. The only positive for the farming sector from the lockdown is that it has kick-started the Agri reforms that were pending since the past 5 years. Now states have proactively sought to ease the sale of farm produce by measures like the setting of private purchase centers outside market yards to buy directly from farmers, allowing direct marketing without the requirement of any license and exempting corporative institution/ farmer producer organizations for wholesale trade outside Agri-market yards.
As sowing, of Kharif crops get underway the acreage of Paddy, the main Kharif crop has risen over 27% till date, against the backdrop of a normal monsoon forecast. The supply of farm labour may seem quite iffy amidst the migrant worker’s plight and their displacement from their parent base. In a rather cautious move, Home Ministry has issued orders asking states to appoint nodal bodies and draw up protocols for migrant’s movement to return to their hometowns. Special trains are being run to facilitate the travel of migrants to their respective home places. But the assertions from these distressed people not to return for the field jobs immediately is surely a matter of concern and worry for the Kharif crop.
Last week was the rainiest of this season with east India recording large excess due to continuance of “Norwesters” activity. Extreme heat was confined to Gujarat, west Madhya Pradesh and parts of Maharashtra. First, low-pressure area of the season is persisting over the Andaman Sea and adjoining south-east Bay with further signs of intensification.
All subdivisions of North India have recorded above normal rains so far and this week is going to inflate these margins substantially. The first half of the week is going to be richer than the latter and Rajasthan is going to be poorest of all in terms of weather activity. The week is going, to begin with, rains and thundershowers accompanied by hailstorm and strong winds over most parts especially Haryana, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh. This spell will last for 3 days and vacate most areas by 7th. A short breather and scattered thunderstorms and dust storms are expected on the last two days of the week. The temperature, therefore, will continue to remain suppressed except over the west Rajasthan.
East & North East India
Last two weeks have experienced pronounced Northwester activity over East India and widespread rains and thundershowers over North East India. Severe thunderstorms with lightning and hail are likely this week also over East India especially Jharkhand and West Bengal. The first half of the week looks stronger than the second half. Extensive weather activity throughout the week over North Eastern Parts will reduce the seasonal rain deficit being carried forward from March.
Least weather activity is expected over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra for the entire week. The complete region will have a temperature above 40 degrees and heatwave in pockets. Parts of Odisha and Chhattisgarh remains susceptible to intense thunderstorms with possible hailstorms in the second half of the week at a few places.
Entire south peninsula except North interior Karnataka observed above normal rainfall last week. Even rain-starved Tamil Nadu also recorded surplus rains. Least weather activity is expected over Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu this time. This may lead to a rise in day temperatures. South interior Karnataka and Kerala will receive pre-monsoon thunderstorms throughout the week, more intense in the second half of the week. Interior and southern parts of Tamil Nadu will find spurt in pre-monsoon activity in the last two days.
The week is going to commence on a wet note and remain so in the first half. Rains thundershowers may be preceded by dust storm, strong winds, isolated hailstorms are also likely. Mid-week would be a little dry. Patchy rains and showers can be experienced again on the last two days 9th and 10th of May.
For the capital city, no rains are likely this week. Partly cloudy sky with hot and humid conditions throughout the week is likely. Maximum and minimum temperature will remain in the high 30s and high 20s respectively. The next week however is promising some rains for the city because of the weather system brewing in the Bay of Bengal.
Footnote: The month of May is most hazardous of severe thunderstorms and dust storms over North and East India high-velocity winds have catastrophic damaging potential advice exercise caution.