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Relief Ahead: Heatwave Conditions Expected to Ease in Bihar Jharkhand and Odisha

In an important weather update from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), relief is on the horizon for residents of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha as heatwave conditions are predicted to become less intense starting June 1. IMD Scientist Soma Sen provided insights into the forecast, emphasizing that the last 24 hours have been particularly harsh, with numerous casualties reported in these states due to the severe heat.

Sen explained, “There have been a lot of casualties in Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha in the last 24 hours. What we expect is that gradually, heat wave conditions will abate in this entire region starting tomorrow. Based on this, in most of these states–Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Bihar, and Jharkhand–we have given an orange alert for heat waves for today. Tomorrow, heat wave conditions are likely to reduce slightly, because of which most of these states will go on yellow alert.”

The orange alert signifies imminent danger due to severe weather, while the yellow alert serves as a heads-up for potentially dangerous weather conditions. The IMD has decided to maintain the orange alert for Punjab and Haryana, along with Odisha, for an additional day to ensure preparedness amidst ongoing high temperatures.

However, the forecast is optimistic with thunderstorm activity expected to increase from June 1, which is anticipated to alleviate the oppressive heatwave conditions significantly. “Because of that, heatwave conditions will reduce,” Sen noted, emphasizing the expected shift in weather patterns.

Additionally, the monsoon season has commenced over South Peninsular India and Northeastern India, bringing much-needed relief from the heat. According to the IMD, the Southwest Monsoon has already reached the coast of Kerala and advanced into parts of northeast India as of Thursday. Remarkably, this year’s monsoon onset over Kerala is two days ahead of the usual date, which is June 1. Kerala has also experienced widespread pre-monsoon rains this year, adding to the early arrival.

To put this in perspective, in 2023, the overall rainfall during the monsoon season (June-September) across the country was reported to be 94 percent of the long-period average. The advance of the southwest monsoon over the Indian mainland is a crucial indicator, marking the transition from the scorching summer to the onset of the rainy season, bringing significant relief from high temperatures.

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As the monsoon progresses northward, regions across India are expected to experience relief from the sweltering summer heat. These rains are indispensable to the Indian agricultural economy, especially for kharif crops. India has three main cropping seasons: summer, kharif, and rabi. The crops that are sown during October and November and harvested from January, depending on their maturity, are known as Rabi crops. Kharif crops, sown during June-July and dependent on monsoon rains, are harvested in October-November, while Summer crops are those grown between the Rabi and Kharif seasons.

Traditionally, the yield of Kharif crops has been heavily reliant on the regular progression of monsoon rainfall. Major Kharif crops include paddy, moong, bajra, maize, groundnut, soya bean, and cotton. According to an analysis by India Ratings and Research (Ind-Ra), the dependency of Kharif crop output on monsoon rainfall has been decreasing gradually.

Earlier this year, the IMD’s first long-range forecast indicated that the southwest monsoon (June-September) is expected to be above normal, with rainfall predicted to be 106 percent of the long-period average. Skymet, a private weather forecasting service, has also forecast a normal monsoon this year. Given that India receives over 70 percent of its total annual rainfall during the southwest monsoon period, the timely and adequate occurrence of monsoon rains is crucial for the Indian economy. Nearly 45 percent of India’s population depends on agriculture, which is significantly influenced by rainfall patterns.

The IMD has been issuing its first-stage forecast for southwest monsoon rainfall in April since 2003. These forecasts are critically important for farmers, policymakers, and investors who rely on this information to make informed decisions and undertake necessary actions for the forthcoming Kharif season.

As residents of Bihar, Jharkhand, and Odisha prepare for a respite from the intense heatwave, this forecast brings a much-needed glimmer of hope, with the promise of more favorable weather conditions in the days ahead.