Hot weather has started to cover the northern region earlier than normal, with temperatures forecast to hit up to 36 degrees Celsius.

The National Hydro-meteorological Forecast Centre made the conclusion, adding that the temperature in Hanoi on March 22 ranged between 29-32 degrees Celsius, even though it's not even April.

This winter saw fewer cold spells than previous years and those that did occur were less intense, said the centre's director Bui Minh Tang.

The temperature in February, for example, was one to two degrees Celsius higher than the same period in previous years, he noted.

"The northern region is likely to suffer more cold weather, but it will not be so severe, with the daily average temperature dropping to around 15 degrees Celsius," he said.

Tang attributed the warm streak to global climate change, which has also caused an increase in natural disasters.

During the decade from 2001-10, natural disasters including storms, floods, landslides, droughts and salt water intrusion left more than 9,500 people dead and missing and caused losses roughly equal to 1.5 percent of GDP each year, reported the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment at a meeting held on March 20 to mark World Meteorological Day.

More unusual weather is predicted this year, with heat and storms likely to hit the country earlier than in previous years. Severe hot weather is expected to arrive in June and July.

Tropical low pressure started to appear in the East Sea last month. There will be around 11-13 storms and tropical low pressure systems in the East Sea this year, Tang said – half of which will affect Vietnam.

He also warned of landslides and floods this year, particularly in northern mountainous areas and the Central Highlands region.-VNA