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New Delhi: Northwest and central India recorded the highest average maximum temperatures in April since 1900 as there would be no respite for the region in May, the weather office said on Saturday.
Releasing the monthly outlook for temperature and rainfall for May, India Meteorological Department director general Mrutyunjay Mohapatra said most parts of the country, barring parts of southern peninsular India, were likely to experience warmer nights in May.
With scanty rains owing to feeble western disturbances, northwest and central India experienced the hottest April in 122 years with average maximum temperature touching 35.9 degrees Celsius and 37.78 degrees Celsius respectively.
The northwest region had previously recorded an average maximum temperature of 35.4 degrees Celsius in April 2010, while the previous record for the central region was 37.75 degrees Celsius in 1973.
“Most parts of northwest India – J&K, Himachal, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Gujarat – are expected to experience above normal temperatures in May,” Mohapatra said.
“The average rainfall in May 2022 over the country is most likely to be above normal,” Mohapatra said.
However, parts of northwest and northeast India as well as the extreme southeast Peninsula are expected to get below normal rainfall in May, Mohapatra said.
Mohapatra also did not rule out parts of western Rajasthan reporting temperatures more than 50 degrees Celsius. “I cannot make that forecast, but it is climatologically possible as May is the hottest month,” Mohapatra said to questions on whether temperatures would top 50 degrees Celsius this summer season.
On Saturday, Banda in Uttar Pradesh had recorded a high of 47.4 degrees Celsius, the highest in the country.
According to Mohapatra, average temperatures observed pan-India for April was 35.05 degrees, which was the fourth highest since 1900, when the weather office started keeping weather data.
The high temperatures in March and April were attributed to “continuously scanty rainfall activity”, he said.
In March, northwest India recorded a deficit in rainfall of around 89%, while the deficit was nearly 83% in April, mainly on account of feeble and dry western disturbances, Mohapatra said.
North India witnessed six western disturbances but they were mostly feeble and moved across the higher parts of the Himalayas, he said adding that the last three western disturbances caused strong winds in parts of Delhi and dust storms over Rajasthan in April.
Heatwave conditions continue in Delhi
The minimum temperature in Delhi settled at 25.8 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average, on Sunday as the national capital continued to reel under heatwave conditions, the IMD said.
According to the IMD, the maximum temperature in the national capital is expected to touch 43 degrees Celsius on Sunday.
Relative humidity was recorded at 61%.
The weatherman has forecast partly cloudy sky with the possibility of thunder development and heatwave conditions at isolated places.
Heatwave conditions are expected to continue over Delhi and adjacent regions for the next three days, whereas dust storm or thunderstorms are expected in isolated places over Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi between May 2 and May 4, an IMD bulletin said.
According to the IMD, Delhi recorded its second hottest April in 72 years with a monthly average maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees Celsius. The city’s normal monthly average temperature in April is 36.30 degrees Celsius.
In 2010, Delhi had logged an average monthly maximum temperature of 40.4 degrees Celsius.
The national capital experienced three prolonged heatwaves this month in the absence of periodic light rainfall and thundershowers which typify this time of the year due to lack of active western disturbances.
It recorded a monthly average maximum temperature of 37.30 degrees Celsius in April last year, 35.30 degrees Celsius in 2020, and 37.30 degrees Celsius in 2019.
Elderly man dies of heatwave in Nashik
A 68-year-old man has died of heatstroke in Nashik city of Maharashtra, police officials said on Friday as parts of the state continued to reel under extremely hot weather conditions with mercury soaring to 46.4 degrees Celsius in Chandrapur district, the highest in the state.
The deceased, Mohan Chandmal Varma, a resident of Nashik Road, had gone out to meet an acquaintance on Thursday afternoon in the Makhamalabad area of the city when he suddenly fell unconscious, they said.
The senior citizen was taken to a nearby private hospital, where he died during treatment, the officials said. The cause of death was heatstroke, they said.
Nashik city recorded a maximum temperature of 41.1 degrees Celsius on Thursday.
Chandrapur in eastern Maharashtra on Saturday recorded a maximum temperature of 46.6 degrees Celsius which was highest in the state during the day, an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said here.
Several other cities in Vidarbha region (eastern Maharashtra) recorded maximum temperatures above 44 degrees Celsius.
Brahmpuri recorded a maximum temperature of 46.3 degrees Celsius, Akola 45.5, Wardha 45, Nagpur 44.6, Gondia 44.5 Amravati 44.2, Yavatmal 44, Gadchiroli 42.8 and Buldhana 42 degrees Celsius, the IMD data showed.
Worst power crisis in six years
India is facing its worst electricity shortage in more than six years just as scorching temperatures force early closures of schools and send people indoors.
Extreme heat parched large swathes of South Asia this week after India‘s hottest March on record, prompting Prime Minister Narendra Modi to warn of rising fire risks as the country heats up too much too soon.
In the northwest, Rajasthan has scheduled four hours of power cuts for factories, making it at least the third state to disrupt industrial activity to manage surging power demand.
“In view of the present power crisis, .. it has been decided to impose scheduled cuts,” a state utility said.
Industrial disruption and widespread power cuts are bad news for corporate India, as economic activity has just started to pick up after months of stagnation amid coronavirus lockdowns.
Power cuts are expected to worsen in the coming days as the heatwaves and a pickup in economic activity are seen increasing electricity demand at the fastest pace in nearly four decades.
The unprecedented heat puts millions of blue-collar workers, including construction and farm labourers and those working on factory shop floors, at great risk. Sunstrokes have claimed thousands of Indian lives over the years.
“Most of India‘s population is rural, without access to air conditioning and cooling stations,” said Arpita Mondal, hydroclimatologist at the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai.
Daily wage earners and those in urban slums are among the most vulnerable to heat, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, since cities tend to be warmer than rural areas due to the heat trapping effect of buildings and other factors.
In addition to power cuts for factories, Rajasthan imposed four-hour power cuts for rural regions, exposing thousands of families in the desert state to extreme temperatures.
The leap in power demand has left India scrambling for coal, the dominant fuel used in electricity generation in the country. Coal inventories are at the lowest pre-summer levels in at least nine years.
Peak-power demand in India surged to a record high on Thursday, and is seen rising by as much as 8% next month, the power ministry said. India‘s weather office has warned of hotter weather in the coming days.
A shortage of trains to transport coal is exacerbating a fuel supply crisis. India‘s power secretary said this week that train availability was 6% lower than required.
Electricity supply fell short of demand by 1.88 billion units, or 1.6%, during the first 27 days of April, the worst monthly shortfall in over six years, according to a Reuters analysis of data from the federal grid regulator POSOCO.
Power cuts in five states, including Rajasthan and Haryana in the north and Andhra Pradesh in the south, were the worst in over six years, the data POSOCO showed.
With power cuts showing an increasing trend, April shortages could exceed the large cuts implemented in January 2016 during a previous shortfall in power supply.
Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh states restricted industrial activity this month as household air conditioning demand peaked.
India last faced a big power crisis in October but the situation this month is far more widespread, with more than half of the country facing more power cuts than in October.
(With agency inputs)