Freaky weather

Parts of the arid state of Maharashtra and most of central India now look like the hill stations in the Himalayas thanks to the unusual hailstorm in this part from the past one week. The size, spacial spread, intensity and cause of the hailstorm are all unusual both for the farmers as well as the meteorologists, who say a respite from hailstorms won’t come till March 13. The rains has damaged crops on 6.72 lakh hectare in Maharashtra. Even as the state agricultural department is assessing the damage, horticulture cash crops like grapes, pomegranates and oranges have been affected the most. Medha Khole, deputy director general (meteorology) IMD Pune, said hailstorms on such a wide scale and of long duration have happened for the first time in recent history. “In Maharashtra, except the coastal belt, hailstorms have hit the entire state. They has affected the most of central India. This will continue till March 13,” said Khole. The northern parts of interior Karnataka, central Maharashtra, Marathwada, Vidarbha, entire Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, parts of Andhra Pradesh and Haryana have been receiving hailstorms for the past one week. A confluence of two different air systems has been responsible for the rains. “Cold and dry westerly continental wind at 6-8 km above the surface is meeting moist and hotter easterly wind coming from the Bay of Bengal. The clouds giving hailstorms are very tall clouds, some part of which are above the freezing level,” said Khole. Usually, hailstorms are more frequent in Haryana, Delhi and other northern parts which fall in the extra-tropical belt. Central India, falling in the tropical belt, gets hailstones when heating is established as the summer season sets in by the end of March. Their size, scale, frequency and severity is shorter. But the current hailstones in central India are caused because of the frontal type of situation created due to interaction of mid latitude westerlies with the tropical air.

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