AccuWeather's 2020 Asia spring forecast

·9 min read

It's here. AccuWeather's annual spring forecast for Asia is out -- and meteorologists are expecting a warmer-than-average season for much of the continent in 2020.

While a large swath is set for ample rain this season, other locations will face building drought.

Additionally, coastal areas will be at risk for a few tropical cyclones.

Meanwhile, a couple of early-season cold outbreaks are forecast from eastern Siberia into northeastern Mongolia and the northern Heilongjiang province of China, but even these areas will finish the three-month period from March through May with near- to above-average temperatures.

Only in the area from northern Pakistan to northern India and the Tibetan region of China will temperatures be likely to be near normal for the spring.

A frequent storm track across the Middle East will carry clouds and precipitation through these areas during the first half of the spring.

"The pattern would slow the seasonal heating of the Indian subcontinent, similar to last spring," AccuWeather Lead International Meteorologist Jason Nicholls said.

Increased soil moisture from the storms should mitigate the heat over northern India, including in New Delhi.

"It would still get hot in these areas as it typically does, but the warmup should be lower than average with bouts of extreme heat likely to be more infrequent than usual," Nicholls stated.

Central and southern India are predicted to warm up much faster than average this spring. Heat waves will be more frequent across these areas due to limited soil moisture to begin with.

An Indian woman walks carrying a child covered with scarf to shield themselves from sun on a hot summer day in Jammu, India, Monday, June 3, 2019. Many parts of India experienced heat wave conditions with temperature hovering above 45 degree Celsius (113 F). (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

There is a chance that pre-monsoon rains develop in southern India and Sri Lanka late in the spring. If this materializes, the heat will be limited.

"There is even the chance the southwest monsoon can reach Kerala toward the end of May, which would be sooner than in 2019," Nicholls said.

Drought conditions, which developed during autumn, are forecast to ease over Indonesia and Malaysia.

"The combination of warmer waters over the western tropical Pacific and and the evening out of water temperatures over the Indian Ocean should allow rainfall to return to near average and may even swing above average as the spring progresses," Nicholls said.

Farther northwest, drought conditions are expected to worsen over in the area from Russia's Volga Valley to much of the Ukraine.

This area of Asia and Eurasia has been experiencing very warm and abnormally dry or drought conditions since the autumn with few precipitation events.

People enjoy warm weather as they walk at Zaryadye Park, with the Kremlin in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020. Russian capital's residents experienced an unusually warm winter as temperatures have averaged 8 degrees Celsius (14.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal in Moscow and 6.5 C (11.7 F) above normal in Kiev, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

"Even through a slightly wetter pattern developed from late January to the first part of February, a drier pattern is forecast to return this spring," Nicholls said. "Some rainfall may occur from late April to early May, but overall, dry conditions are likely to get worse with the potential for severe drought."

As winter grains emerge from dormancy and the planting of crops follows later this spring, yields may be significantly reduced as a result of the dryness.

Additionally, warm weather which occurred this winter may cause grains to emerge from dormancy a little ahead of average. Any cold shots into the spring could lead to damage.

"Fortunately, the odds of a late Arctic blast this spring look to be minimal at this time," Nicholls added.

The pattern responsible for some of the dryness in southwestern Russia and the Ukraine may also supply part of the Middle East with spring rainfall.

As a semi-permanent area of high pressure develops near the surface and the jet stream level of the atmosphere, this blocking pattern may force storms to barrel farther south across Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

Several rounds of rain and mountain snow can fall in these areas as a result, especially during March and April.

The same pattern would tend to produce cool fronts that can bring brief opportunities for some rain as far south as Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, northern Oman and part of Saudi Arabia early in the spring.

There is the chance of thunderstorms to erupt on a few occasions in southwestern Saudi Arabia and Yemen later in the spring.

Farther to the northeast, China's Yangtze Valley and North Plain are expected to have adequate rainfall.

"Growing conditions should be good as winter grains and rapeseed emerge from dormancy and the spring planting begins for summer crops in the Yangtze Valley," Nicholls said. "Favorable growing conditions are also in store for northeastern China and much of the Korean Peninsula this spring."

While Japan can start the spring on a wet note, there is a chance for dryness to evolve in South Korea, Taiwan and southern Japan during May. These areas will be influenced by an area of high pressure at most levels of the atmosphere that is forecast to settle over the western part of the Pacific Ocean.

A sluggish start to the east Asia monsoon is forecast, threatening building drought in some regions.

"Because of the slow start to the monsoon, dryness may evolve into drought in some cases over Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand," Nicholls said.

In this Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019, photo, sightseers play on a sandbar in the Mekong River in Nakhon Phanom province, northeastern Thailand. Experts say the water levels have also become unusually low, exposing sandbanks in the middle of the river. (AP Photo/Chessadaporn Buasai)

Dozens of hydroelectric dams along the Mekong River in southeastern Asia and the lack of rain already have the life-giving waterway at very low levels, the Asia Times reports.

AccuWeather's early outlook on the 2020 western Pacific typhoon season

Another cause of dryness in southeastern Asia is likely to be related to a slow start to the western Pacific typhoon season.

"While limited tropical activity would lower the number of tropical threats for the Philippines, it would translate to lower rainfall and raise the potential for drought to develop on the islands," Nicholls said.

Water temperatures over the Indian Ocean play a huge role in the western Pacific typhoon season, and last year, meteorologists say this was a significant factor.

Chilly water over the eastern part of the Indian Ocean resulted in a more rounded shape of high pressure than expected over the western part of the Pacific Ocean last year. Tropical systems, such as typhoons, tend to travel around the edge of high pressure areas, rather than travel straight through them.

"In 2019, very chilly waters on the eastern part of the Indian Ocean overrode some of the routine parameters that we look at to make a call on the upcoming season," AccuWeather Tropical Weather Expert Dan Kottlowski said.

Rather than a large number of typhoons slamming into the Asia mainland, like with a flattened oval-shaped high pressure area, there were more storms that took a curved path toward Japan.

"Water temperature anomalies over the Indian Ocean were in record-high territory during 2019," AccuWeather International Meteorologist Tyler Roys said.

The water temperature anomaly has gone away over the Indian Ocean and is now close to average.

"So for 2020, we expect the high pressure area over the western Pacific, winds high in the atmosphere, wind shear and water temperatures in the western Pacific and the status of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) to be the main engines for the outcome and nature of the typhoon season," Kottlowski said.

The western Pacific typhoon season starts at a slow pace, but this year may be even slower than average with perhaps no organized systems at all through May or June.

"We are basing our forecast on neutral ENSO conditions, above-average water temperatures in the western part of the Pacific, average wind shear, west to east winds aloft and a fairly round area of high pressure over the western Pacific," Kottlowski said.

AccuWeather is predicting a near- to slightly-above-average number of tropical storms (29), a near-average number of typhoons (17) and a slightly below-average number of super typhoons (five). The average number of tropical storms is 26, whereas there are typically 17 typhoons and six super typhoons.

"We expect more impacts on the Philippines, compared to last year, once the season gets going during the summer and continues into the autumn," Kottlowski said. "We believe more typhoons are likely to take a curved path, rather than push toward the Asia mainland like in 2019."

This would mean multiple impacts on Taiwan and Japan, but there could still be a few storms that reach the East Asia mainland.

"We always like to remind people that even though early projections may not indicate that a great number of typhoons can hit an area, one powerful storm alone can define a season and cause significant loss of life and devastation," Kottlowski cautioned.

Surging waves hit against the breakwater and a lighthouse as Typhoon Hagibis approached the port town of Kiho, Mie prefecture, central Japan Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019. Hagibis, a super typhoon, went on to be the costliest typhoon in recorded history with damage topping $15 billion in U.S. dollars. At least 98 people lost their lives as a result of the storm. Winds peaked at 160 mph (260 km/h). (AP Photo/Toru Hanai)

AccuWeather's early-season Indian Ocean tropical cyclone outlook for 2020

As is often the case for the weather in India and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula, early-season tropical activity over the northern Indian Ocean will be a wildcard.

"This spring, especially during April and May, conditions look to be conducive for a bit more pre-monsoonal tropical activity over the northern Indian Ocean than the two named cyclones from 2019," Nicholls said.

AccuWeather is projecting two to three named cyclones in the northern Indian Ocean with the potential for several low pressure areas to evolve into deep depressions.

"Forecast steering winds mean that southeastern India, Sri Lanka and the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula into Somalia may be targets for impacts somewhat similar to last year," Nicholls said.

Steering winds are expected to result in more west- or northwest-tracking systems.

In 2019, Very Severe Cyclonic Storm Hikaa traveled westward into Oman during September, while Super Cyclonic Storm Kyarr spun toward the west in late October and weakened just off the coast of Somalia on Nov. 1.

There were 12 depressions, of which, 11 were deep depressions, eight cyclonic storms and one super cyclonic storm in 2019. It was the second-costliest North Indian Ocean cyclone year on record with at least $11 billion in U.S. dollars in damage and more than 170 fatalities.

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