El Nino & more: five months, and not a drop of rain yet

Locals, weathermen and experts say the situation has been the same over the past two years, with the summer being exceptionally harsh.
Umbrellas have become a must carry when venturing out in the city
Umbrellas have become a must carry when venturing out in the city Photo| Nagaraja Gadekal

BENGALURU: It has been a harsh and stressful summer so far, and for the past five months, Karnataka has seen little or no rainfall, note experts and weathermen.

Experts point out that it is not just urban areas that are recording deficit rainfall, even regions of the Western Ghats, especially the rainforest in Agumbe has recorded a prolonged dry spell. Locals, weathermen and experts say the situation has been the same over the past two years, with the summer being exceptionally harsh.

Since March 2022, the rainfall pattern in the region has been poor, and is becoming a concern, due to which researchers have taken up studies on the nesting and breeding patterns of King Cobras, amphibians and other species in the region. Rising summer temperatures of 34-35 degree Celsius in the Western Ghats region indicates a rise in zoonotic diseases, reduced water availability downstream and rise in salinity in estuaries.

“Usually by March, there would at least be a spell of rain, but this time it is completely dry. Last year, there was a clear sky in July-August. There is sudden and untimely rainfall which is effecting herpetology,” said noted snake expert from Agumbe, Gowri Shankar.

As per India Meteorological Department (IMD) data, the state as a whole has recorded 94 per cent deficit rainfall, from March 1 till date. Against the normal of 17mm, the state has received 1mm rainfall. Agumbe has recorded 18 per cent deficit rainfall, and Shivamogga 87 per cent deficit.

IMD-Bengaluru scientist A Prasad said it is not just the El Nino effect that has led to deficit rainfall and a warmer summer, the reverse upper air circulation is not allowing formation of clouds. Coastal Karnataka has recorded 86 per cent deficit rainfall, north interior Karnataka 91 per cent deficit and south interior Karnataka 97 per cent deficit rainfall.

Prof TV Ramachandra from the Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, said studies have shown that wherever there is an increase in urbanisation and decrease in green cover, rainfall pattern has been affected. “Studies have shown that while rainfall pattern continues to be around 3000- 4000mm in Sharavathi and Linganamakki, it has reduced to 1700-1900mm in Theerthahalli, Nandiholle and surrounding areas, since 1965, due to forest fragmentation and increased urbanisation. These are rain catchment areas, but are now seeing a deficit. In our report published in 2020, ‘Insights of Forest Dynamics for the Regional Ecological Fragility Assessment’, change in rain pattern was pointed out,” he said.

The paper analysed landscape dynamics and spatial patterns of forest fragmentation of Shivamogga district, central Western Ghats, and prioritized ecologically fragile or Ecologically Sensitive Regions (ESR) at the village level, based on bio-geo-climatic-social variables with land use dynamics considering temporal remote sensing data.

Stay indoors, hydrated: IMD issues advisory

The IMD has issued a set of advisories for the public given the mercury breaching the 370C mark in Bengaluru. The advisory has advised people not to venture out between 12 and 3 pm

  1. People should hydrate themselves, drink water even when not thirsty

  2. Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee, carbonated drinks

  3. Use ORS, homemade drinks like lassi, lemon water, buttermilk, etc

  4. Wear light-weight, light-coloured & porous cotton clothes

  5. Carry umbrellas when venturing out, wear goggles, use a damp cloth on head, neck, face, limbs, avoid hot water for bathing

  6. Do not leave children or pets unattended inside parked vehicles

  7. If you work in the field, use a hat or an umbrella, also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face, limbs

  8. Keep animals in shade and give plenty of water to drink.

  9. Athletes should avoid strenuous activities when the outside temperature is high. Avoid working out outside between noon and 3 pm

  10. While traveling, carry water

Heatwave warning

The IMD has issued a heatwave warning for Bagalkot, Kalaburagi, Raichur, Koppal, Yadgir, and Ballari as most of these places have recorded temperatures 2 degrees Celsius above normal

Light rain likely

There will be light rainfall at isolated places over Bidar, Chikkamagaluru, Kalaburagi, Vijayapura, Kodagu, Mysuru, Mandya, Ramanagara, Shivamogga, Hassan, Chitradurga and Tumakuru between April 10 and 14

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