Drought gripped more parts of India in October even as the month turned out to be the warmest on record globally, the National Centres for Environmental Information, a unit of the US weather agency National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said. 

“Drought conditions were confirmed over northern, eastern and coastal southwestern parts of India on the India Drought Monitor, covering about 26.3 per cent of the nation, which is more than last month,” the NCEI said in its Global Climate Report for October.

Barring Rajasthan and Punjab, almost all States have parts that have been affected by drought, the monitor showed. The drought situation worsened in October as until September, 21.6 per cent of the country was gripped by drought. Post-monsoon rainfall in October was the sixth-lowest since 1901. 

Indifferent weather

According to the India Meteorological Department, 61 per cent of the 712 districts from where data were received have either experienced deficient, large deficient or no post-monsoon rainfall, starting October 1.

Since June this year, India has been experiencing indifferent weather conditions. The South-West monsoons set in late this year and June saw below normal rainfall but July witnessed excess precipitation. August was the driest month since 1901, while September received normal rainfall before October received lower than normal precipitation. 

NCEI said the current El Niño and Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) sea surface temperature (SST) patterns are associated with the rainfall anomaly patterns from eastern Africa (floods), across the Indian and Pacific Oceans and into Central and South America (drought).


“Further to the east, most of India was dry (like the El Niño composite), but Indochina (flooding in southern Myanmar) and much of China was wet, different from the composite,” it said.

October was wetter than normal across large swathes of Asia, with drier-than-normal areas occurring over parts of India, northern China to eastern Siberia, and parts of South-West Asia.

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NCEI said the global surface temperature in October was 1.34°C above the 20th-century average of 14°C, making it the warmest October on record. This was 0.24°C above the previous record from October 2015.  

The global ocean surface temperature was at a record-high in October for the seventh consecutive month and temperatures were above average in Asia, besides other parts of the world. 

2023 warmest year?

The Northern Hemisphere had its warmest October on record at 1.92°C above average. Both land and ocean temperatures were at record highs for the Northern Hemisphere this October, NCEI said. It was the fifth month in a row that record warm global temperatures were witnessed. 

The January–October global surface temperature was the highest in NOAA’s 174-year record at 1.13°C above the 1901–2000 average of 14.1°C. This surpassed the previous record from January–October 2016 by 0.08°C. 

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NCEI said as per its statistical analysis and data through October, there is a greater than 99 per cent chance that 2023 will likely rank as the warmest year on record. 

On the other hand, Iran continues to reel under drought for the third consecutive year affecting agriculture and access to potable water. Indonesia has been the worst-hit by El Nino with its rice production likely to drop by 2 million tonnes, forcing it to import the foodgrain.