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47.6°C: Delhi sizzles on hottest May day in years

May 27, 2020 06:00 AM


47.6°C: Delhi sizzles on hottest May day in years
HEATWAVE: Churu in Rajasthan burns at 50°C; no respite expected until the end of this week

Jayashree Nandi

New Delhi : Delhi sizzled on Tuesday, recording the highest temperatures in May in at least a decade at the Palam weather station and 18 years at Safdarjung station, under the influence of dry northwesterlies. It is likely to stay hot till the latter part of the week when a western disturbance could bring some rain — and respite from the heat.

Back in 2010 in Palam and 2002 in Safdarjung, the same temperatures were recorded — 47.6 degree Celsius (C) in the former and 46 degree C in the latter.

To find a higher temperature than those measured on Tuesday, one would have to go back to 1998.

The temperatures come on the back of an exceptionally pleasant April in the capital; even the first half of May saw maximum temperatures well below normal in the city. Delhi does get hotter (sometimes), but only in June.

Palam’s 47.6 degree C, was 6 degrees above normal and fell in the severe heat wave category; Safdarjung’s 46 degree C was 6 degrees above normal and bordered on the severe heat wave criteria. Churu in Rajasthan recorded the highest temperature in the country at 50 degree C.

Last year, Palam recorded its hottest June day ever with a temperature of 48-degree C, only half a degree C above Tuesday’s maximum.

The all-time high in May in Safdarjung was recorded on May 29, 1944 — 47.2 degree C and the highest ever for Palam was recorded in 1998 at 48.4-degree C. Safdarjung recorded 46.5 degree C in 1998- and 46-degree C, in 2002. Palam also recorded 47.6 degree C, in 2010, the same as Tuesday.

Churu in Rajasthan recorded 50 degree C, seven degrees above normal and the highest in the past four years. Severe heat wave conditions were reported from west Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh, south Haryana, Delhi, south Utter Pradesh, north Madhya Pradesh and Vidarbha. Ganganagar in Rajasthan recorded 47 degree C, Bikaner, also in Rajasthan, recorded 47.4 degree C, Hisar in Haryana, 48 degree C, and Banda in UP, 48 degree C — all in the severe heat wave category.

There are two criteria for recording heat waves: a maximum temperature of at least 40 degree C which is 4.5 degree C to 6.4-degree C higher than the usual; or a maximum temperature of at least 45 degree C for two stations in a sub-division for two consecutive days. A severe heat wave is declared when the maximum temperature is at least 40 degree C and the departure from normal is more than 6.4 degree C or the actual maximum temperature is more than 47 degree C.

Due to dry, north-westerly winds over plains of northwest India, Central India and adjoining interior parts of eastern India, present heat wave conditions are likely to continue for the next two days, IMD said in a statement adding that severe heat wave conditions are likely over pockets of Vidarbha on May 27, and the heat wave will continue over parts of Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and East Madhya Pradesh on May 26 and 27.

Under the influence of a western disturbance and formation of east-west trough (area of low pressure) in lower levels, rain and thunderstorms are likely in many parts of northwest India on May 28 and 29 following which heat wave conditions will abate.

“Super cyclone Amphan sucked out all the moisture from other parts of the country and very dry, northwesterly winds from land side was blowing over northwest India. Plus, we had clear skies and direct sunshine which also led to the peaking of maximum temperatures. There was no intense western disturbance which could change this kind of wind pattern or cause clouding. We can expect some relief in Delhi from May 29,” said Kuldeep Shrivastava, head, regional weather forecasting centre.

The minimum temperature at Safdarjung on Tuesday morning was 28.2 degree C and Palam, 29.1 degree C.

According to National Disaster Management Authority’s guidelines for preparation of heat action plan released in 2017, heat waves have caused 25,716 deaths between 1992 and 2016 across various states. “It is likely that the number of actual heat wave related deaths is much higher than the number reported as heat related illnesses are often recorded inaccurately and figures from rural areas are hard to attain. The combination of exceptional heat stress and a predominantly rural population makes India vulnerable to heat waves. Vegetable vendors, auto repair mechanics, cab drivers, construction workers, police personnel, road side kiosk operators and mostly weaker sections of society are extremely vulnerable to the adverse impacts of heat waves such as dehydration, heat and sun strokes,” the guidelines say

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