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Driest January since 1901 triggers water scarcity fears in Himachal Pradesh

Driest January since 1901 triggers water scarcity fears in Himachal Pradesh

People soak up sun on the Ridge in Shimla on Thursday. TRIBUNE PHOTO: LALIT KUMAR



Tribune News Service

Pratibha Chauhan

Shimla, January 18

Even as Himachal continues to reel under the adverse impact of the prolonged dry spell, this January has created a record of being the driest so far with lowest precipitation since 1901.

The Shimla Meteorological Centre today said that this January (till 18th) had broken the previous record of the driest month since 1901 as the lowest precipitation had been witnessed so far in more than a century. The total cumulative precipitation received in the state in the month of January 2024 (up till 18th) is 0.1 against normal precipitation of 43.1, with the departure being recorded at minus -99.7 per cent.

The unusually long dry spell through December 2023 and January this year has caused concern among growers over the adverse impact on fruits, especially apple and other crops. The near absence of snow and negligible rains could lead to acute water shortage during the summer months. Some parts of Kangra and Chamba districts are already facing acute water shortage, with power generation also plummeting with reduced discharge in rivers.

Even though there are still 12 days of the month but as per the forecast for Himachal Pradesh, weather will remain mostly dry in the state till January 25, 2024. Besides, the dense to very dense fog conditions along with cold wave and frost will continue at isolated places in low hill district and plains. The weather will remain mostly dry in the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej catchment areas till January 25, 2024, minimising chances of precipitation.

The month of January this year has surpassed the earlier lowest precipitation of minus - 99.6 per cent, recorded in 1966. The other years having driest January’s are 2007 (-98.5), 1902 (-92.4), 1986 (-91.4), 2018 (-90.5), 1916 (-87.8), 1936 (-86.5), 1963 (-83.5), 1998 (-83.4) and 1914 (-81.4).

Though the weather remained unusually dry over the last week but some areas received light to moderate precipitation yesterday. The weather conditions witnessed dense fog, cold wave and ground frost at many places in Una, Kangra, Bilaspur and Mandi.

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