Red alert issued as heatwave intensifies in northern India

Delhi’s residents sweltered in a heatwave on Sunday, with the maximum temperature hitting five degrees above normal for the second consecutive day, and no respite forecast for the plains until at least May 28, prompting a red alert in the capital as well as Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan.

The Safdarjung weather station recorded the maximum temperature at 44.4 degrees Celsius. The authorities sounded a red category alert for Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, west and east Rajasthan on May 25 and 26 for heatwave or severe heatwaves. A red category alert implies authorities should take action to avoid health emergencies.

South Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh reported heatwaves and Churu in west Rajasthan reported a severe heatwave on Sunday, with a maximum temperature of 47.4 degrees Celsius.

The heat was worse in several other places, where the maximum temperature rose above 46 degreesCelsius.Nagpur Sonegaon in the Vidarbha region recorded 46.2 degrees Celsius; Churu in Rajasthan 46.6 degrees Celsius, Akola in Maharashtra 46 degrees Celsius, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Heatwave conditions are very likely to persist for the next four to five days, with peak intensity on May 25 and 26, IMD said in its Sunday bulletin, citing dry northwesterly winds blowing over the plains of northwest India and central India and the north-south trough in lower tropospheric levels from east India to south-peninsular India.

“We don’t see any signs of maximum temperatures falling till May 28. From May 28, we are expecting dust storms and thunderstorms due to a western disturbance. Wind speed will increase to 50 to 60 kmph and there will be clouding. Right now, very dry hot northwesterly winds are blowing over entire northwest India. Sunrays are also vertical, making its impact very intense, humidity has been only 30% to 40%,” said Kuldeep Shrivastava, head of the regional weather forecasting centre.

The maximum temperature in Delhi’s Aya Nagar was 45.6 degrees Celsius, 6 degrees above normal and 44.2 degrees Celsius at Lodhi Road.

IMD’s bulletin added that heatwave conditions were likely over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha and Telangana during the next 4-5 days. Similar conditions were predicted in some pockets over Chhattisgarh, Odisha, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Marathawada, Coastal Andhra Pradesh, Yanam, Rayalseema and north-interior Karnataka during next 3-4 days.

Because of strong southerly winds from Bay of Bengal to northeastern states at lower tropospheric levels, heavy to very heavy rainfall is likely at some places over Assam, Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh from May 24 to 28, according to IMD. Heavy rainfall is also likely over parts of south-peninsular India on May 26 and 27.

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