Sohra, June 19 (IANS) It has been raining cats and dogs in India's northern states, but Cherrapunjee (renamed Sohra) - known as one of the wettest places on the earth - nestled in the abode of clouds in Meghalaya in is "burning hot" at over 28 degrees Celsius!
Residents of the hilltop in northeastern India say their heavenly abode is hotter and drier than ever before - due to global warming.
"Sohra has been burning hot for months. In the past, we used umbrellas only to shield ourselves from the rains, but these days you will find everyone in this town carrying an umbrella to protect them from the scorching sun," Merilang Syiem, a resident, told IANS.
Not only umbrellas, Syiem said, people in some houses have also started using fans to beat the heat.
Cherrapunjee is on the edge of a plateau on the southern slopes in the East Khasi Hills district. Located 1,290 metres above sea level and 56 km from state capital Shillong, it is known to receive the highest rainfall in the world.
This town records an average rainfall of 12,000 mm a year, with the maximum occurring over the southern slopes of the Khasi Hills. The highest recorded total annual rainfall was 24,555 mm in 1974.
"But that will never happen again, though we still get much rain during the monsoon. But, earlier, we got rains here even during the winter and that is not happening any more," said Lastborn Kharkongor.
Heavy rains have created rare bio-diverse vegetation here and made the town a high point of tourism in the state.
An India Metrological Department official said the mercury has been on the rise and was at 28.3 degree Celsius on June 12.
"It is true that the temperature at Cherrapunjee was above normal (average) for the last few days. This may be attributed to the weak monsoon activity that prevailed over our region for the last few days," said Sunit Das, a meteorologist in the Regional Meteorological Centre, Guwahati.
The average temperature in Cherrapunjee in June is 23 degrees Celsius.
"When we talk about the rainfall, from June 1 till today (June 18), Cherrapunjee received 618.8 mm of rainfall against its normal (average) 1,509.2 mm. Actually, during the advancement phase of southwest monsoon, sometimes the rainfall activity becomes subdued over our region."
Das was, however, hopeful of the monsoon picking up by Thursday.
(Raymond Kharmujai can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)