Lahaul, Spiti snowfall in May uncommon occurrence though recent exceptions: IMD

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By Nivedita Khandekar
New Delhi, May 25 (IANS) The latest Western Disturbance that brought relief to the parched northwest Indian plains, also brought in snowfall for the high altitude areas of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh, an uncommon phenomenon for May but something that replenished some of the snowmelt lost due to heat wave earlier last month.

The high hills of the state receive snowfall generally from October till April. The latest round of snowfall in Lahaul-Spiti has affected vehicular traffic moment on Manali-Leh highway too. Kaza town in Spiti valley too was covered with snow.

Starting from May 21, the snowfall increased in intensity – Koksar area of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh received fresh snowfall on May 24 while Gondla was also wrapped under a blanket of snow with 10 cm snowfall. Local media reports also mentioned that Churdhar peak received snowfall in May after six decades.

Earlier on May 20, while issuing the forecast for the wet spell from May 21 till May 24, India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) Meteorological Centre, Shimla had said: “Under the influence of the active Western Disturbance, light to moderate thunderstorm/ rain/snowfall (high hills) accompanied with strong winds, lightning and hailstorm (wind speed exceeding 50 kmph at time) are very likely from that afternoon itself.”

Explained Surender Paul, who heads IMD’s Meteorological Centre at Shimla, said: “Snowfall in May in Lahaul Spiti is an uncommon occurrence. And yet, there are reports of snowfall in Keylong, Hansa, Gondla in recent past years viz 2020 and 2021 too.”

IMD data available from January 2017 onwards has shown that Gondla had received 5 cm snowfall on May 7, 2020, on May 6, 2021 it was 5 cm again, while on May 7, 2021, it was a whopping 30 cm snowfall.

For Hansa, data available from November 2010 onwards showed that it received 10 cm snowfall on May 20, 2021 and 2.5 cm on May 24, 2021.

For Keylong, data available from September 2008 onwards showed that it received 7 cm snowfall on May 6, 2009, 1 cm each on May 10 and May 11, 2009, 3 cm on May 6, 2013, 7 cm on May 1, 2015, and 3 cm on May 26, 2015, the IMD data showed.

The fresh snowfall has brought relief for the state that had witnessed a heat wave earlier last month along with the plains of northwest India and suffered snowmelt, especially from the mountain tops.

(Nivedita Khandekar can be reached at nivedita.k@ians.in)

–IANS
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