Rare March Rain, Storms to Target New Delhi, Mumbai

A potent storm will drop unusually far south as March begins, blasting India and Pakistan with heavy thunderstorms, flooding rain and burying mountain snow.

While spottier showers and thunderstorms will dot Pakistan and northwestern India on Saturday, the brunt of the storm will blast these nations early Sunday through Monday night.

Thunderstorms will spread across northern and central India, in a west-to-east fashion, during this time. A steadier soaking rain will inundate northern Pakistan as snow buries the Himalayas.

Many thunderstorms will be capable of unleashing downpours, including in Mumbai, New Delhi, Agra and Lucknow.

A localized number of these thunderstorms can also kick up damaging winds and hail. It is not out of the question for a tornado or two to touch down. Gusty winds outrunning any thunderstorm and its rain could whip up blinding dust.

"Rain amounts this weekend can easily approach 50 to 100 mm (2 to 4 inches) in north-central and northwestern parts of India," stated AccuWeather.com Rob Richards. Similar totals are in store for Islamabad, Pakistan.

Such rain can easily trigger flash flooding, especially following the recent inundation and flooding around Islamabad. From New Delhi to Lucknow to Mumbai, the dry ground will have difficult soaking up the downpours.

Storms occasionally drop southward and impact places in and around the Himalayas, but it is rare for widespread substantial rain elsewhere across northern and central India as March starts. Rainfall is virtually unheard in late February and March in Mumbai.

"Storms typically do not come that far south this time of year," added Richards. "It is normally a dry time until the summer monsoon kicks up."

For those with agricultural interests, AccuWeather.com Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls stated that the rain is arriving too late to give the region's winter wheat crop a boost.

"The winter wheat crop is too far along for the rain to provide any benefits. The crop is getting ready to be harvested," Nicholls said. "However if the crop was planted late, then the rain could help it."

"The moisture, on the other hand, should help the rape seed crop."

Farther north, at least a fresh 30 to 90 cm (1 to 3 feet) will bury the Himalayas by the time the snow winds down. The snow will not be confined to India and Pakistan but will also encompass the mountain range in northeastern Afghanistan, Nepal and Bhutan.

The snow could put the region at risk for more avalanches, with the most recent occurring and claiming more than 160 lives in Afghanistan.

To avoid a life-threatening situation and becoming stranded, hikers should avoid venturing into the mountains during the impending snowstorm.