Have you noticed a chillier winter this time? Could the recurring hailstorms in Shillong and rainfall across the Northeast be a result of the La Niña phenomenon?

We, at EastMojo spoke with an expert from the Guwahati Meteorological department to delve deeper into whether the La Niña has a hand to play in a further dip in temperatures in the northeast region of India.

In order to understand this, we must first understand what the El Niño and La Niña phenomena are.

El Niño and La Niña

El Niño and La Niña are complex weather patterns that result from variations in ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Region. These are different from one another and are opposite phases of what is called the El Niño- Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

This ENSO cycle describes fluctuations in temperature between the ocean and the atmosphere in the east-central equatorial pacific. The El Niño and La Niña usually last between nine to twelve months but rarely prolonged events may last for years.

The cool phase

La Niña is a pattern that describes the unusual cooling of the tropical eastern Pacific and may last between one and three years.

The warm phase

El Niño is a climate pattern that describes the unusual warming of surface waters in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. This “warm phase” is more common than the La Niña.

Both these phenomena tend to peak in the northern hemisphere during winters.

Winter of ’22 in Northeast India

El Niño and La Niña are very big wind and temperature systems that definitely affect the weather pattern in India but nothing specific can be said about the Northeast of India.

“The northeast is a part of India, you can’t say that it will affect winters in a particular region of the country or a particular state. El Niño and La Niña definitely affect the monsoon systems. There are some El Niño years and then there are some La Niña years which affect long-term weather systems,” Dr Sanjay O’Neill Shaw, the Deputy Director-General of Meteorology at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Guwahati told EastMojo.

On being asked if the winters are harsh this year as compared to previous years, he said that there are people who still complain of not having experienced winters like before and find it warm.

“Every year winter days shift a little so this is not at all unusual and winters are more or less the same. There are some western disturbances and cyclonic circulation is over our region due to which some cloudiness and rainfall is being experienced which has led to snowfall in higher altitudes of Arunachal Pradesh and hailstorms in Shillong,” Shaw explained.

“There is nothing unusual about winters this year. There have been reports of hailstorms but that’s not a first for the region, there have been hailstorms before but it does not happen every year,” Rakesh Kumar, a Shillong-based IMD Scientist told EastMojo.

Hailstorms were reported two years ago in winters and over the past decade, there have been 6 or 7 such instances of hail in the month of January, said the scientist. “As far as Meghalaya is concerned, there will be a degree or two of drop in temperature over the next 3 – 4 days,” Kumar added.

Here’s a weather forecast for the Northeast region for this weekend:

Also read: In pictures: Is it really ‘snowing’ in Shillong?

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