North India is likely to expect a harsher winter and the possibility of cold waves occurring could be more this season, India Meteorological Department (IMD) Director General Mrutunjay Mohapatra said on Sunday.
The IMD, in its winter forecast for December to February, said below normal minimum temperatures are likely over north and central India.
"The winter is likely to be harsher in north India this season. The probability of occurrence of cold waves is more," Mohapatra said.
He added that the night temperatures in north India are likely to be below normal, while the day temperatures are expected to be above normal. The west coast and south India are likely to witness above normal minimum temperatures.
"During the upcoming winter season (December to February), below normal minimum temperatures are likely over most subdivisions of north, northwest, central and few subdivisions over east India," the IMD said in its winter forecast.
Scores of people die every year due to cold waves that sweep across the north Indian plains.
In a webinar last month, Mohapatra had hinted that winter could be more severe this season due to the prevailing La Nina, a phenomenon associated with the cooling of Pacific waters and an antithesis to El Nino.
"Currently, Sea Surface Temperatures are below normal over central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean and moderate La Niña conditions are prevailing over the equatorial Pacific Ocean.
"The latest forecast indicates that the moderate La Niña conditions are likely to continue at least till the end of winter season," the IMD said.
The IMD started issuing winter forecasts from 2016. This is probably the first time that the country's weather agency has said the winter will be severe. The forecast for previous years had predicted warmer winters.
The country also recorded above normal rainfall this year and an extended monsoon season. One of the reasons cited for this is the La Nina phenomenon.
Mohapatra said parts of north India have recorded breaking low temperatures in October.
The IMD has four meteorological divisions – northwest India, south peninsula, east and northeast India and central India.
The northwest division comprises states of Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Central India covers a vast stretch with states like Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha while the southern peninsula division encompasses all the southern states and Union Territory of Puducherry.
The east and northeast India division comprises Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and all the northeastern states.
"Most of the subdivisions of northeast India, few subdivisions of west coast and south peninsular India are likely to experience above normal minimum temperatures.
"The probability forecast for maximum temperature indicates that above normal maximum temperatures are likely over most subdivisions of northwest, north, east and northeast India and a few subdivisions of central and peninsular India. Most of the subdivisions of south peninsular India are likely to experience below normal maximum temperatures," the IMD added.