The Telegraph
Saturday , February 2 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Afghan storm set to bring heavy rain and snow
- Severe weather warning

New Delhi, Feb. 1: Weather scientists today predicted intense rain or snow across north-western India next Monday and Tuesday as two storm-like systems are expected to couple, creating conditions for extreme weather that could yet be good for some winter crops.

A storm called a western disturbance that hung over Afghanistan today is expected to cross over into India, merge with a weather system over Rajasthan and deliver intense rain or snowfall, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.

“We expect severe weather at some places,” said Laxman Singh Rathore, the director general of the IMD, the national weather agency. “We expect clouds tomorrow, light rain on Sunday, and heavy to very heavy rain or snow on (February) 4 and 5.”

The forecasts suggests rainfall in the north-western plains could range from 4cm to 7cm on Monday and Tuesday, or snowfall of about 40-70cm in parts of the mountain states of Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

In eastern India, these systems could cause a slight increase in rainfall in some areas, Rathore said. Tiger hill, about 15km from Darjeeling town, got a light snowfall for about 2 minutes on Friday.

Weather scientists say this level of snowfall is likely to block sections of roads in the mountain states. Parts of the north-western plains could experience hail with rain and minimum temperatures are likely to climb by 3C to 5C.

“The hail may damage mustard and water accumulation could harm potatoes, but overall the rain and snow is likely to have a positive impact on crops,” said Rathore, who specialises in agro-meteorological science. “It’ll be wonderful for apple, peach, plum orchards across the North-west. The snow accumulation will also be good for northern Indian rivers,” he said.

He said agro-meteorological divisions in different states are likely to issue advisories to farmers not to irrigate in anticipation of the intense rainfall. Potato farmers would also be asked to take care that water does not accumulate in their farms.

On an average, four or five western disturbances — storms that develop over western Asia through moisture from the Mediterranean — arrive over Northwest India each winter, and, under weather conditions, they can cause heavy rain or snowfall.

The western disturbance lying over Afghanistan today has a deep trough that extends from the surface up to an altitude of about 12km. As it moves over India, scientists say, it will induce a smaller storm-like circulation over western Rajasthan.

The primary and the induced storm will then couple, drawing moisture from the Arabian Sea and accentuating conditions for heavy rain or snowfall and a slight increase in minimum temperatures.

The IMD has said the effects of these systems could stretch up to parts of Gujarat.