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Yellow Alert in Delhi as Punishing Heatwave Spell Continues; Experts Call it ‘Dangerous’
Warning of the deadly heatwave, public health experts said that the extreme heat so early in the year is 'particularly dangerous'.
New Delhi: The national capital is predicted to witness a spike of two to three degrees Celsius in the maximum temperature on Wednesday. A yellow alert warning of a heatwave spell in the national capital starting April 28 has also been issued in view of the punishing heatwave spell in the region. On Wednesday, the maximum temperature is expected to breach the 42-degree mark on Wednesday and soar to 44 degrees Celsius by Thursday, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The maximum temperature may even leap to 46 degrees Celsius in parts of Delhi, a Met department official said.
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The Safdarjung Observatory — Delhi’s base station — had recorded a maximum temperature of 40.8 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. The capital had recorded a maximum temperature of 43.2 degrees Celsius on April 21, 2017. The all-time high maximum temperature for the month was 45.6 degrees Celsius on April 29, 1941.
Northwest India has been recording higher than normal temperatures since March last week, with weather experts attributing it to absence of active Western Disturbances over north India and any major system over south India. The region had got some respite last week due to cloudy weather due to the influence of a Western Disturbance over Afghanistan.
When is an extreme heatwave declared?
According to the IMD, a severe heatwave is declared if the departure from normal temperature is more than 6.4 notches. For the plains, a heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is over 40 degrees Celsius and at least 4.5 notches above normal. A hilly region is considered to be under the grip of a heatwave if the maximum temperature reaches at least at least 30 degrees Celsius or more. Also, if an area records over 45 degrees and 47 degrees Celsius on any given day, then the IMD declares heatwave and severe heatwave conditions, respectively.
Experts Call Extreme Heatwave so Early “Dangerous”
Warning of the deadly heatwave, public health experts said that the extreme heat so early in the year is ‘particularly dangerous’. The IMD said the heatwave could lead to “moderate” health concerns for vulnerable people — infants, elderly, people with chronic diseases — in affected areas.
An analysis by Mariam Zachariah and Friederike Otto of Imperial College London found the heat that hit India earlier this month is already much more common as a result of higher global temperatures caused by human activities. Zachariah, Research Associate at the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London, said: “The recent high temperatures in India were made more likely by climate change. Before human activities increased global temperatures, we would have seen the heat that hit India earlier this month around once in 50 years.
“But now it is a much more common event. We can expect such high temperatures about once in every four years. And until net emissions are halted, it will continue to become even more common.”
Otto, Senior Lecturer in Climate Science at the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London, said, “India’s current heatwave has been made hotter by climate change that is the result of human activities like burning coal and other fossil fuels.
“This is now the case for every heatwave, everywhere in the world. Until net greenhouse gas emissions end, heatwaves in India and elsewhere will continue to become hotter and more dangerous.”
Things to Avoid During a Heatwave
People in the regions with a heatwave should avoid heat exposure, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, cotton clothes and cover the head by use of cloth, hat or umbrella etc.
Delhi has recorded eight heatwave days in April this year, the maximum since 11 such days witnessed in the month in 2010. The city may see a partly cloudy sky, light rain, and a dust storm with winds gusting up to 50 kmph on Friday, which may provide a temporary respite.
The weather department had earlier said that northwest India and adjoining parts of central India are likely to see more intense and frequent heatwave conditions in April.
India recorded its warmest March in 122 years with a severe heatwave scorching large swathes of the country during the month. Parts of the country are also seeing wheat yields drop by up to 35 percent due to the unseasonal heat.
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