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2012 Winter Forecast of India

Akshay Deoras
Severe Weather Forecaster

14th Oct 2012
0400hrs IST

Dear Readers,
The Official forecast for the 2012 Winter in India is below.

This year's forecast is an experimental forecast as we have used a new technique for weather forecasting. Till the last year, the winter forecast used to be made using the weather models directly. However there are many errors in it which ultimately spoil the forecast accuracy. This year's winter forecast consists of two parts. One is a technical part having all the scientific background for the forecast whereas the other one is the non technical or the public version for lucid understanding of the people.

As per the forecast, it appears that Northern half of the country will experience cooler than normal winter whereas southern half will experience warmer than normal conditions. As a result, the net forecast for 2012 Winter in India seems "NORMAL WINTER''

We also expect to cross the 2,00,000 pageviews after the Winter forecasts are published.

Thanks for the support !

For any feedback/suggestion, you can mail me at


Akshay Deoras

List of topics-

1) Forecasting Basic
2) Current ENSO status,expected ENSO behaviour during 2012 Winter
3) Introduction to the Arctic Oscillation
4) **Relation between the Arctic Oscillation and Minimum temperatures during winter
5) Estimated Arctic Oscillation Index during 2012 Winter
6) The 2012 Winter Forecast
7) References & Acknowledgements

** We are introducing this relation for the first time 

The South West Monsoon retreat is almost complete as the Sun is apparently shifting Southwards which plays a major role in the decrease in the average surface air temperature over Central and Northern India prominently. 

The Winter Forecast for India isn't restricted to the local weather phenomena which people believe i.e if there has been strong monsoon there will be good winter and vice versa. It has now been realized that the entire weather of India and many parts of the world is governed by the Global Weather Phenomena of El Nino Southern Oscillation happening in the Equatorial Central Pacific Ocean briefly. 

Though not fully understood, the phenomena is of oscillating sea surface temperatures in equatorial pacific regions between above normal,normal and below normal temperatures. The scientific reason is with the variation in the trade winds blowing eastward at the surface level which leads to changes in sea water level in some areas of Pacific Ocean like Indonesian coast, Australian Coast and offshore Peru.

The phases of ENSO are 
El Nino- When Sea Surface Temperature(SST) of Eq Pacific is warmer than normal
Neutral- When SST is normal
La Nina- When SST is cooler than normal in Eq.Pacific 

It has been widely observed that winters in India go comparatively cooler than normal during La Nina and warmer than normal during an El Nino. The reasons are still not known and aren't fully accepted by weather forecasters like me. 

In the 2010 Winter Forecast by METD WEATHER, we had postulated the  *** Jet Stream velocity vector variation with the ENSO as a parameter for forecasting the 2010 Winter Forecast as stated below.
The entire forecast can be seen here-

"" La Nina also strengthens the Jet streams.

 Blocking high pressure over Tibet
As cooler temperature builds in Tibet, a high pressure area builds over Northern India and also in Tibet, Right now the air pressure is as high as 1040mb. The Jet streams flowing from west to east are blocked by this air pressure so the jet stream splits into two branches or mostly jet stream digs South instead of North

As the high pressure blocks the jet stream, jet stream digs southwards in India covering areas of Punjab,Haryana,Delhi,Madhya Pradesh,Maharashtra and much of the North-Central India.
The Jet rarely flows over Jammu and Kashmir ( except for Western Disturbance).
So more cool air digs southwards than normal during La Nina.

The intensity of the high pressure over Tibet and North India is related to the La Nina phenomena""

*** Jet Streams here refer to the Subtropical Jet Streams

In 2011, We continued with the La Nina- Jet Streams relation for forecasting the season. The forecast can be seen here

"""Explanation to Cooling effect of La Nina

 A possible explanation which I think is the application of concept of intensified jet streams during la nina over Indian continent. 
La Nina is marked by the increased convection in west pacific than east pacific due to strong winds towards west and vice versa at the upper air. 

Thus an amplified subtropical jet stream will tend to bring more cold air in the Indian subcontinent particularly in Northern,Central and . In the case of El Nino, due to less amplified subtropical jet streams the blast of cool air is partial and it brings a noted warmer effect on the surface air temperatures. 

Example- A river is like ***Jet Stream. When the river's speed is greater it will drag the stones in its way. When speed is less, stones will not be carried with it. Stones can be compared with cold air.  """

*** Jet Streams here refer to the Subtropical Jet Streams

However it was later realised that the reasoning isn't sufficient to co-relate ENSO with Indian Winter and the forecasts showed strong anomaly when were compared with the actual conditions of 2010,2011. So we shall not consider this parameter in complete sense in this forecast.

In an attempt to establish the relationship between the Indian Winter with certain atmospheric oscillations, we came across the Arctic Oscillation (AO). We shall see the details regarding the AO-Winter interaction below


2) Current ENSO status and expected ENSO behaviour in 2012 Winter

After a strong El Nino pattern which ended during early 2010, neutral conditions were observed for a few months after which La Nina pattern got established which continued through the 2010 winter and ended during summer of 2011. However a weak La Nina developed again and continued through the 2011 winter.

ENSO Neutral condition has been observed since then continuing even today.

Since  July end-August, probability of an El Nino emerging before the Northern Hemisphere winter was being considered as very high and the SST in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean tended towards a positive ( El Nino) phase.

Above- SST Anomaly as analysed on Aug 26 2012 shows a pool of warmer than normal SST ( in the red encircled region) in the vicinity of the Nino 3.4 region.

The July August September ( JAS) SST anomaly in the Nino 3.4 region was +0.3C

3-Month period      ONI  (C)
        MJJ                 0.0
        JJA                 0.1
        JAS                0.3      

But from September mid onwards, SST anomalies started decreasing ( approaching zero) in all the NINO regions including Nino 3.4.

The SST Anomaly analysed on 7th Oct 2012 is given below


One can observe that SST in the encircled region has cooled down as compared to the August 2012 situation.

The latest weekly SST departures are:
Niño 4      0.3ºC
Niño 3.4   0.1ºC
Niño 3     -0.1ºC
Niño 1+2  -0.1ºC

Thus one can infer that SST in the Central Pacific Ocean is turning towards a neutral and not towards the positive anomaly mode from September end. 

The 850mb winds in the Pacific Ocean which are a measure of the intensity of the Easterly Trade Winds are consistently showing anomalies ( westerly anomalies) across North Indonesia area. Easterly trade winds otherwise seem to be showing no anomaly and thus reducing the chance of an El Nino forming for a few more months.

The CPC considers a three month group SSTA in the ONI plots. So it can be expected that the ONI for August- Sept-Oct settles to around +0.40C

Above is the IRI Probabilistic ENSO Forecast. The forecast still calls for a 50% + chance for El Nino formation till DJF 2012-2013 period.

So according to our estimates, The ONI will be in the Neutral Range in the ASO period and shall hit the El Nino threshold of +0.5C in the SON period i.e El Nino Conditions may emerge around November end to December 2012 with a very weak amplitude.

So for those forecasters forecasting using the ENSO, it appears that more or less a ENSO Neutral will persists through the Northern Hemisphere winter with a slight El Nino conditions emerging in the year end.

The tendency of ENSO will depend on whether El Nino gets established this year end or not.
However, in this forecast we are least bothered about the ENSO

3) Introduction to the Arctic Oscillation - 

AO- Arctic Oscillation is not much known to the people of India as the parameter is not used for making any forecast ( Long Range/Short Range) relating to India. However, in this study we observed that the AO seems to have some association with the Indian Winters. Before we get into the observational part, lets understand the basics of the AO

AO is an oscillatory phenomena characterised by dipolar natured air pressure across the High Latitudes and the Mid Latitudes simultaneously. AO is  Characterised by two prominent modes-
1) The Positive
2) The Negative

The Positive Mode of the AO is characterised by the formation of low pressure in the Polar Regions and subsequent higher pressure in the Mid latitudes refraining the cool air from the higher latitudes to spread in the mid latitudes. Vice versa conditions are observed during the Negative Mode

(all jet streams mentioned below are the subtropical jet streams)

The most important feature of the AO is that it influences the subtropical jet stream. In the case of the positive AO, the jet streams have a zonal flow from the usual west-east direction. Whereas in the case of the Negative AO, the jet streams don't have a zonal flow rather they have a wave shaped ( comprised of crest and troughs) as seen in the below figure-

In the above figure, one can clearly see how the cold air enters the mid latitudes during the Negative phase.

Arctic Oscillation is given by the Arctic Oscillation Index ( AOI). The AOI is one of the most unpredictable index and one can't predict how the AO will behave as it varies stochastically.


4) Relation between the Arctic Oscillation and minimum temperatures during winter

Since the volume of investigated data is large, we use the SAMPLING method from statistics.

1) It has been observed from the data that the minimum temperatures in a region stretching southwards from the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh have a inverse relation with the AOI
i.e the higher the AOI (MORE POSITIVE), the lower the temperatures during the Winter ( as compared to the previous years).

2) Minimum temperatures in a region stretching northwards from the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh border are directly proportional to the AOI 
i.e the lower the AOI ( MORE NEGATIVE IN MAGNITUDE) min temperature VS previous year's temperature. 

3) The geographical boundary at the Maharashtra-Madhya Pradesh region across which the AOI varies directly/inversely is being coined as the Deoras limit. 

 The result prominently applies for the December month so we shall investigate the relation for December month only

*** South of Deoras Limit*** 

Data set for Nagpur,Maharashtra

Average Monthly min temperature (1950-2002)

AOI Historical ( 1950-2012)

  YEAR        MONTH         AOI           AVG MIN TEMP(C)
   1950            DEC             -1.928           13.028
   1951            DEC              1.987           12.765

   1951            DEC              1.987           12.765
   1952              "                  -1.827          14.991

   1969              "                  -1.856          13.232
   1970              "                   -0.399         11.944

   1994              "                   0.894          13.044
   1995              "                   -2.127         15.403

   1995              "                   -2.127         15.403
   1996              "                   -1.721         13.101

One infers that for a period say 1951 the min avg temp for december was lesser than 1950 when the AOI had opposite relation
Thus through sampling, the probability of the above relation holding good is high though there are some cases where the relation doesn't hold good.


For simplicity and to reduce the length of this forecast, we shall consider the case for Ludhiana,Punjab. However from the given links, one can verify that the relation holds good for all the areas North of Deoras Limit

    YEAR        MONTH         AOI           AVG MIN TEMP(C)

     1950            DEC             -1.928              5.457
     1951            DEC              1.987              8.439

     1951            DEC              1.987              8.439
     1952              "                  -1.827             7.523

     1997              "                   -0.071             5.676
     1998              "                   1.353              8.113

     1972              "                    1.238             8.349
     1973              "                    -0.181            5.475

Thus through sampling, the probability of the above relation holding good is high though there are some cases where the relation doesn't hold good.

Though it has not been calculated but we do suspect that when calculated on a 3-4 month basis, the results will come better and the anomalies in the result will decrease considerably. 



5) Estimated Arctic Oscillation Index during 2012 Winter

As stated above, the AO is a stochastically varying phenomena. September 2012 had AOI of 0.772

Here is the observed and forecasted value of the AOI

Thus from the models, it can be inferred that AOI will remain in the negative mode for remaining half of Oct for sure 

Since its an experimental forecast, I think that the AOI will remain in the negative mode till somewhere Mid November after which it will oscillate between the negative and positive phase.

So the OND average AOI as per my estimate shall be negative considering the happening Oct negative AOI and estimated Nov AOI

6) The 2012 Winter Forecast

Like said above, it will all depend on the AOI. If the net AOI turns out to be positive then areas South of Deoras Limit will experience slightly cooler than normal winter and vice versa

However considering the expected negative AOI, it appears that Northern Deoras Limit regions will experience a marginal cooler than normal winter whereas areas south of the limit shall experience a slightly warmer winter with the intensity increasing towards South India 

Zone Wise- 

North India- 

1] Jammu and Kashmir,Himachal Pradesh,Uttaranchal

  Normal winter conditions will be observed here.The temperature anomaly ( All season Average) shall be around 0.2C to 0.1c less than average temperature.

2] Punjab,Haryana,Chandigarh,New Delhi

The overall temperature anomaly in these regions depends on the western disturbance. However it does appear that these regions will witness ( 0.5C to 0.7C) less than average temperature. 

After the snowfall events, temperature in the plains will drop suddenly but average will be near to the predicted value.

** We shall not estimate the number of western disturbances as its a debatable topic. However, the precipitation in the hilly areas seems NORMAL

3] Madhya Pradesh,Rajasthan,Uttar Pradesh,Gujarat 

A Cooling effect is likely in these areas as the jet streams coupled with the negative AOI influence shall lead to drop of temperatures due to more cool air incursion. 

** Uttar Pradesh will have NORMAL winter and hence I don't expect any anomaly in the temperature. 

The Average temperatures will be ( ~0.5C) less than average normal temperature. Areas like Rajasthan-Gujarat border can experience lesser than avg temp by a factor of around ( 0.8C to 1C)

4] Northern Chattisgarh,Bihar and Jharkhand,West Bengal
Regions will witness a slightly cooler than normal winter conditions with average variation of about 0.3-0.5C ( lesser than the normal) 

5] Sikkim,NE India 

Though this shall not support the Deoras limit but it appears that the regions will witness warmer conditions with temperatures around ( 0.3 to 0.5C) more than normal 

6) Central,Northern,Eastern Maharashtra,
These areas will be witnessing normal winter conditions but the tendency shall be a slightly warmer than normal by a factor of around 0.3C. 

The expected record min temperature of Nagpur for the season shall be in the range of 7.5C ( +/- 0.5C)

7) Southern Maharashtra and remainder Southern India
Warmer than normal conditions with temperature variation of a factor of around ( 0.5C to 1C) more than Normal for Southern India

* No forecast available for Lakshadweep, Andamaan Nicobar Is.*

7) References & Acknowledgements

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