Many people, including commuters and residents were taken by surprise when it snowed in Gedu on the night of January 4, stranding vehicles and causing inconveniences to commuters.
Official records indicate Gedu received its first snowfall this year. Some Gedu residents said the place received a light snowfall in 2008. “But this is the first time we are receiving snowfall of such thickness,” a local resident said.
Many people attributed the snowfall to climate change.
The National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) officials, however, said western disturbance along with convective clouds, which were fed with continuous moisture from the Arabian Sea caused the snowfall with hailstorm and thunderstorm in Gedu.
A hydromet officer, Pema Syldon, said surface temperature of Gedu was one degree Celsius that evening. “Since Gedu had favourable conditions such as drop-in temperature and moisture in the air, precipitation occurred in the form of snow with hailstorm.”
She said that due to frequent western disturbances, the country was experiencing precipitation this winter season. “There will be numerous snowfalls this winter.”
Although many said the change in weather conditions was because of climate change, the hydromet officer said that winter precipitation over the country was governed by seasonal variability.
She also said that a single event shouldn’t be directly linked with climate change because climate change studies require longer historical data analysis.
Meanwhile, rainfall and temperature forecast of Bhutan for 2019 winter season projected most likely ‘below normal’ temperature forecast for winter.
Thimphu experienced its coldest day on December 18 last year in 23 years. The lowest minimum temperature reached -9 degree Celsius, which is about 3.7 degrees below the average for winter from 1996 to 2019.
As per the record with NCHM, the average minimum temperature recorded from 1996-2019 was -5.3 degrees Celsius.
As of today, the winter temperature observed across the country is below normal by an average of 3 degrees Celsius.
Meanwhile, NCHM forecasts snowfall in the northern, western and central regions of Bhutan today.