BHUBANESWAR: It is only mid-February but the heat is already on in Odisha. Day temperature has soared past 35 degree Celsius at many places. Capital Bhubaneswar recorded 36.1 degree Celsius on Monday, not too cooler compared to Bhawanipatna (36.5 degree) and Angul (36.1 degree), two of the hottest places on the day.
Is it the sign for the Summer of 2016? A look at El Nino years over last two decades and one could say harsh days are ahead. Every El Nino year - strong or moderate - has been followed by a year with relatively more days of heat wave.
According to records available with India Meteorological Department (IMD), there have been at least five El Nino years between 1997 and 2009 which have been followed by a year with heat wave days ranging from 13 to 41 between April and June.
1997 was characterised by strong El Nino factors. Next year, the State recorded around 23 heat wave days. At least 2,000 people died of sun stroke in Odisha that year as people struggled to cope with the conditions.
Similarly, 2002 was a moderate El Nino year and in 2003, as many as 20 heat wave days were reported. Again 2009 was a moderate El Nino year but in 2010, the heat wave days jumped to a whopping 41. In 2005 (after a weak El Nino year), the number of heat wave days was calculated at 24 whereas in 2007, which followed a weak El Nino year, the heat wave days reported were 13. Since 2015 was designated as a strong El Nino year, the signs are ominous.
“If you look at the impact, every strong or moderate El Nino year has been followed by a year with pretty high number of heat wave days,” Director of IMD, Odisha Sarat Chandra Sahu said.
While Sahu said the exact nature of summer cannot be forecast, the present conditions point at hotter days ahead. If 2016 summer promises to be hot, the winter of 2015-16 was at best warm. An analysis by IMD of the mean temperature of four weather stations of Odisha shows that months of November and December in 2015 were warmer compared to last six decades.
During the period 1951-80, the mean November temperature for Bhubaneswar was 24.25 degree Celsius which rose to 24.9 degree during the 1981-2010 period. In 2015, the mean temperature jumped to 26.06 degree. For December, the mercury showed a similar pattern - up from 21.65 degree to 23.85 degree.
In western town of Jharsuguda, the rise was from 23 degree Celsius to 24.46 degree for November and from 19.8 degree to 21.66 degree Celsius. Down south in Gopalpur, a similar pattern of warmer winter was reported. The port town saw mercury rising from 24.55 degree to 26.31 for November and 22.1 degree to 25.04 degree Celsius for December. Northern town of Balasore also reported a warmer winter.
Meanwhile, the weather office says that day temperature will rise by one to two degrees from February 17 for about a week. Bhubaneswar, which is reporting day temperature in the 35-36 degree Celsius level, will feel the heat as mercury may remain at least five degree above normal.