2023 warmest year in Nepal in 13 yearsMinimum temperature this winter has risen 1 to 2 degrees Celsius above normal.
The year 2023 is the warmest in Nepal in 13 years and the second warmest in the past 42 years.
According to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, which maintains records of temperature, precipitation and other meteorological activities, the country received lower-than-normal precipitation, with the average maximum temperature rising above 0.7 degrees Celsius between January and October last year.
“The average maximum temperature of the country during January to October was 28 degrees Celsius, which is the second warmest year since 1981. It was +0.7 degrees Celsius above normal,” said Sudarshan Humagain, a meteorologist at the department. “In 2010, the average maximum temperature was 28.1 degrees Celsius.”
Officials say that the final data for November and December is yet to be updated, which could make some difference in calculating average temperature increase.
A report prepared by the department states that during the same 10 months, the country received 11 percent lower-than-normal rainfall, which is the sixth lowest precipitation since 1981. The average maximum temperature from January to October was 0.7°C above normal. The average minimum temperature in the period was 0.2°C above normal.
In the first two months of the year, the country experienced a significant deficit in monthly precipitation, registering 71 percent and 82 percent below normal. However, in March, there was a notable increase, with precipitation exceeding the normal levels by 58 percent. Subsequently, from April to July, the precipitation stayed from 16 percent to 21 percent below the normal level. August witnessed increased rainfall of 14 percent above normal, while September got lower-than-normal precipitation by 36 percent and October above normal by 39 percent.
The average maximum temperature was above 30°C in southern parts of the country, while in the northern parts, it was below 15°C.
Nepal observed a significant increase in monthly maximum temperatures, ranging from +0.8°C and +1.9°C above normal in January and February, respectively. In March, maximum temperatures were below the usual levels, while April recorded normal maximum temperatures, even as May experienced temperatures below the average.
As June unfolded, maximum temperatures exceeded the normal range by +1.9°C, and in July, the deviation was +0.7°C. August witnessed temperatures below the normal. September and October witnessed temperatures above the normal range by +1.5°C and +0.4°C, respectively.
“Maximum temperature of the ongoing winter is also one to two degrees Celsius above the normal,” said Humagain.
The minimum temperature was above 18°C in the southern parts and below 0°C in the northern parts. The average minimum temperature of Nepal between January and October was 16.1°C, +0.2°C warmer than normal. Monthly minimum temperatures in Nepal were above normal in all months from January to October except in April and May.
In the third week of April, hot days and mild to moderate heatwave conditions in the southern parts of the country lasted a week. A sudden increase in maximum temperatures by the end of May led to mild to severe heatwave conditions over large parts of the country and this continued until the second week of June.
The heat wave persisted over central and western parts of the country until the third week of June, before the onset of monsoon in the region. The temperature exceeded 42°C for a few days in some places in the southern parts, especially Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Nawalparasi West, Chitwan, Parsa, Bara, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Mahottari and Siraha districts.
The normal monsoon onset and withdrawal date in Nepal is June 13 and October 2, respectively. A period of four months, June to September, is considered the monsoon season. This year, the monsoon entered eastern Nepal one day later than the normal onset day and withdrew from eastern Nepal on October 15, a delay of 13 days. The duration of the monsoon was 124 days, which was 12 days longer than the normal monsoon period (112 days).
This year, several stations broke previous records of extreme temperature and precipitation. Bandipur in Tanahun, Chatara in Sunsari, Chautara in Sindhupalchok, Dharan Bazaar in Sunsari, Damkauli in Nawalparasi East, Gorkha, Janakpur Airport of Dhanusha, Kanyam Tea Estate of Ilam, Okhaldhunga, Chitwan, Simara Airport of Bara, and Siraha recorded extreme temperatures.
The weather station of Diktel in Khotang recorded 158.6 mm rainfall in 2023, the highest daily precipitation ever recorded.
Nepal is one of the countries most vulnerable to the climate crisis in the world and has witnessed extreme weather events over the past decade and a half.
Evidence indicates that the maximum temperature in Nepal is rising at a greater rate (0.05 degrees Celsius per year) than the minimum temperature (0.03 degrees Celsius per year).
“The year 2023 could be the warmest in the last four decades,” said Humagain. “This winter is also among the warmest.”
Experts say extreme weather events—excessive rainfall in a short span of time, continuous rain for several days in the post-monsoon period, dry spells and droughts, below-average precipitation and above-normal temperatures in winter—have become more frequent in Nepal.