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2019 expected to be warmer: Officials

The year 2018 may have ended on a chilly note, but 2019 is expected to be warmer, senior officials said, citing El Nino and the overall trend of rise in temperatures.

According to the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO), the chance of a full-fledged El Nino being established between December 2018-February 2019 is estimated to be about 75-80 per cent.

El Nino is a phenomenon associated with the warming of the Pacific waters and it is largely believed to have an impact on the subcontinent's weather. The weather community is divided over the extent of its impact on the monsoon.

Ministry of Earth Sciences Secretary M Rajeevan said as the year commences, the chill that covered large parts of the country is likely to dissipate.

"The temperature is likely to be above normal. El Nino is one factor while the global warming is another. We have been witnessing above normal temperatures every day," he said.

Since 2015, every passing year has clocked high temperatures. From 2015-2017, all years were recorded to be hottest.

"In an El Nino year, summers and winters witness above normal temperatures," Additional Director General of India Meteorological Department Mritunjay Mohapatra said.

Mohapatra said it is too early to predict whether El Nino would have an impact on monsoon and how would the rainy season be. Rajevaan also noted that it would be premature to say whether the El Nino would have an impact.

"El Nino is likely to end by April-May. So, it is unlikely to have an impact on the monsoon. But it is too early to predict that," Rajeevan said.

Mohapatra also pointed out to the growing erratic weather patterns, be it uneven monsoon, lethal thunderstorms that form in less than an hour, heat waves.

He said that in 2018, there were seven cyclonic storms in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, of which four touched the mainland India.

They were Daye (September 19-22), Titli (October 8-13), Gaja (November 10-19), Phethai (December 13-18). The last time such phenomenon was observed in 1985, he said.

Although temperatures were soaring across the country, the number of heatwaves in 2018 were less in comparison to the previous year.

On the other hand, over 300 people died due to the thunderstorms, resulting in violent winds, lightening over the north Indian plains before the monsoon.

In 2018, both the southwest and the northeast monsoon were recorded as below normal. Several parts of the country have been witnessing agricultural distress due to erratic weather patterns.