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Friday, June 21, 2024

Maximum Temperature Nears 50°C in Parts of India

Tuesday saw Delhi see the hottest day of the season so far, with a temperature of 45.8 degrees Celsius (°C). This is the third day in a row that the city has had temperatures above 45 degrees. Dry and scorching westerly winds continued to batter the city. The previous high for the season was 45.4°C on Sunday, while Delhi had recorded a high of 45.1°C on Monday before this.

Meanwhile, two weather stations in outer Delhi — Narela and Mungeshpur — came close to breaching the 50-degree mark on Tuesday, topping off at a maximum temperature of 49.9°C — the highest ever recorded at an observatory in the Capital.

The previous highest maximum logged at a Delhi station was 49.2°C at Mungeshpur on May 15, 2022, officials aware of the matter said.

Cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) fared no better, with Faridabad recording a harrowing maximum of 48.4°C, followed by Noida at 47.3°C, Gurugram at 47°C, and Ghaziabad at 45.6°C.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast similar weather to prevail in Delhi-NCR on Wednesday as well, before a western disturbance may trigger a possible dip in the maximum on Thursday. The Met department also predicted a chance of a drizzle in isolated parts of Delhi-NCR on Friday and Saturday, with overcast conditions expected to help further bring down the temperature.

IMD officials said that hot, dry winds from the arid western part of the country, coupled with a clear sky, led the temperature to soar on Tuesday, with the Safdarjung observatory — representative of Delhi — recording a season high of 45.8°C, which is five degrees above normal.

“As temperatures are beginning to rise in the western part of the country, particularly Rajasthan, we are seeing some impact on Delhi too, particularly its western side. Dry, hot westerly winds are blowing from Rajasthan towards Delhi and we also have clear skies in Delhi for the last few days. This is what is leading to such extreme high temperatures,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD.

Records also tumbled at Narela and Mungeshpur (49.9°C each), Najafgarh (49.8°C), Ayanagar (47.6°C), and the Ridge (47.5°C) — all of these stations recorded their all-time highs on Tuesday. In addition, six weather stations — Narela, Mungeshpur, Najafgarh, Jafarpur (48.6), and Pitampura and Pusa (48.5°C each) —recorded a maximum above 48°C.

In all, heatwave or heatwave-like conditions were recorded across Delhi-NCR. IMD classifies it as a heatwave over any region when the maximum temperature is 4.5°C above normal and also above 40°C. It is a ‘severe heatwave’ when the maximum is 6.5°C or more above normal.

Vishwas Chitale, senior programme lead at Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW), said a combination of local weather conditions and climate change were behind such heatwaves. “The current situation highlights the immediate impacts of climate change and poses significant dangers to public health. Further, urban heat islands also increase the intensity of heatwaves,” he said.

Delhi’s Heat Index (HI) or “real feel”, meanwhile, stood at 47°C on Tuesday, which was the same as Monday. This, officials said, was due to dry heat prevailing the region.

Delhi’s wet-bulb temperature, another indicator of how uncomfortable it is outside, was 25.5°C. A wet-bulb temperature of 32°C or higher makes it difficult for even fit and acclimatised people to work outdoors, and at a wet-bulb temperature of 35°C, humans can no longer regulate body temperatures, leading to heatstrokes and potential collapse.

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