Meghalaya - Climate
Much of Meghalaya, "the land of the rain-clouds", is covered with lush forests, rich in orchids. These "blue hills", catch the main force of the monsoon-laden winds off the Bay of Bengal, and are among the wettest places on earth; stupendous waterfalls can be seen near the capital, Shillong, but the most dramatic of all plummet from the plateau to the south, around Cherrapunjee. The hills of Meghalaya rise to just under 2000m, which makes for a pleasant year-round climate, a welcome refuge from the steamy valleys of Assam.
Meghalaya is subject to vagaries of the monsoon. The climate varies with altitude. The climate of Khasi and Jaintia Hills is uniquely pleasant and bracing. It is neither too warm in summer nor too cold in winter, but over the plains of Garo Hills, the climate is warm and humid, except in winter. The Meghalayan sky seldom remains free of clouds. The average annual rainfall is about 2600 mm over western Meghalaya, between 2500 to 3000 mm over northern Meghalaya and about 4000 mm over south-eastern Meghalaya. There is a great variation of rainfall over central and southern Meghalaya. At Sohra (Cherrapunjee), the average annual rainfall is as high as 12000 millimetres, but Shillong located at a distance of about fifty kilometres from Sohra receives an average of 2200 mm of rainfall annually.
The temperature range is approximately 2 degree centigrade to 36 degree centigrade depending upon the altitude ranging between 300 mts above mean sea level (MSL) to 2000 mts above MSL. Meghalaya is amongst the highest rainfall areas in the world with an annual average rainfall of 11,000 mm during the period of 1980-91, predominantly mountainous, lying between the Brahmaputra valley in the North and the Surma valley (Bangladesh) in the South.
In Meghalaya, summer is for a period of about 5 months, from May to September, with torrential rains caused by the South West Monsoon. Rainfall varies from place to place and from altitude to altitude. The amount of rainfall over Cherrapunjee and Mawsynram is quite heavy. During the last two decades, it has ranged from 11,995 mm to 14,189 mm in Cherrapunjee and over Mawsynram it was 10,689 mm to 13,802 mm.
The climate of Meghalaya varies with the altitude. The climate of Khasi and Jaintia Hills is uniquely pleasant and bracing. It is neither too warm in summer nor too cold in winter, but over the plains of Garo Hills, the climate is warm and humid, except in winter. True to its name, the Meghalaya sky seldom remains free of clouds. The average annual rainfall is about 1,150 cm.
Flood affected areas are mostly on the low altitude areas, bordering Assam and the international border (India-Bangladesh). Flash floods have become a regular feature in these areas, due to massive deforestation, unchecked jhum cultivation. The flood water carries huge amount of hill sand, stone, logs and trees, which are deposited in agricultural fields due to inundation of banks in the foot hills, thus causing immense damage to crops.
The key to the health of the farm sector in the state lies in the health of the forest cover in the state. Every peak, every square inch of the upper range of the hills need to be under mixed forest cover to protect the soil from leaching and erosion to help regulate and decrease the fury of streams and rivulets during the monsoon season.
Vegetation also help to retain soil moisture and ooze it out during the lean winter months to balance vegetative stress caused by mono cropping in the valley; to bestow various other advantage to help maintain the fragile eco-balance. This will ensure continuous cultivation of crops in the farm sector.
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