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Climate change: Unseasonal hailstorms pose greater risk to horticulture

Srinagar, Mar 1:  A new phenomenon of unseasonal hailstorms is causing huge damage to the horticulture crops in Jammu and Kashmir.

Data released by Meteorological Department, Kashmir (MET), 29 high-velocity hailstorms have occurred in Jammu and Kashmir since 2017.

 

“The number of hailstorms in 2017 was seven, while the number stood at nine in 2018. The year 2019 saw a surge with 13 hailstorms reported across J&K,” the data revealed.

A hailstorm is an unusual weather phenomenon in which balls of ice, called hail, fall from the sky. The ice balls are nothing more than solid precipitation that will form under certain conditions.

MET data indicated that instances of hailstorm were observed from March to September.

Professor Shakil Romshoo, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Kashmir said in the last three years, Kashmir has been repeatedly battered by different extreme events like untimely snowfall and hailstorm causing huge damage to crops and orchards.

“Among other extreme events, hailstorms are mostly observed during pre-monsoon season from March to May in the valley,”

What has baffled the scientists is that the frequency of hailstorms has increased in June, July, and September. “These are all manifestations of climate change,” said Romshoo.

Though occurrences of hailstorm are unavoidable, a need is being felt for better forecasting and preparations.

“The number of automatic observation weather stations should be increased in J&K. This can help in issuing severe weather warnings when the hail reaches a damaging size, as it can cause serious damage to structures, crops and live stocks,” Romshoo said.

Director MET, Kashmir, Sonam Lotus said with an adequate number of Doppler Weather Radars, the department will be able to monitor and forecast better. “Issuing timely warnings and advisories before and after hailstorms will help farmers to protect the crop and minimize loss,” he said.