Killer heat

ByProma Chakraborty

Apr 5, 2019

Temperatures in 2019 are expected to be 0.5 degrees Celsius more than normal in the Capital. Remember, the year 2018 was the sixth warmest year on record after 1901

Before woollens could be packed, the scorching summer heat hit Delhiites with March-end temperatures soaring to 39 degree Celsius, the warmest in nine years.

The first three days of April saw extreme heat conditions with the mercury rising gradually. Delhi’s maximum temperature, recorded at 35.3 degrees Celsius, went two notches above normal for this time of the season — and the minimum was 16.2 degrees Celsius.

Things are to get worse in the next few days, as the mercury level is expected to touch 38 degrees Celsius, as per the forecast made by the India Meteorological Department (IMD). Daytime maximum temperatures are likely to rise by 2-3°Celsius over many parts of north-west India during the next two days.

While there might be a slight respite due to light rainfall expected by the end of the week, the temperature will rise again with a  heat wave set to come.

“An active western disturbance will increase the levels of moisture content present in the region. Light to moderate rain with high wind speed as well is expected in parts of the city,” states an official from IMD.

Due to the rains, the day temperatures over the Capital will drop marginally and will provide some relief from the ongoing heat. The weekends will see thunderstorm and dust storm activity, accompanied with patchy rains in parts of Delhi-NCR.

As per a report, “Part of north-west India is likely to experience isolated thunderstorms/dust storms and gusty winds during the afternoon/evening hours of 5th and 6th April. Thunderstorm accompanied with dust storm, with wind speed reaching 40-50 kmph and lightning at isolated places likely over Punjab and Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi.”

The minimum temperature is set to drop due to the flow of northerly winds, after the passage of the western disturbance. However, from April 8, dry weather conditions will prevail once again, and maximum temperatures will start rising.

This summer season, the average maximum temperatures are likely to be warmer than normal by 0.5 degree Celsius over some subdivisions from northwest India, which includes Delhi. “There is about 44% probability of maximum temperatures in the core heat wave (HW) zone during April to June 2019 to be above normal,” states the seasonal outlook report by IMD.

Heatwaves are situations when the temperature is above 40 degree Celsius and 4.5 degree above the normal conditions recorded in a zone.  In India, there has been over 6,000 heat-related deaths reported between 2010 and 2018. This year, in March itself, heat waves claimed three lives in Kerala.

“After the second week of April there is probability of heat waves in Delhi. Hot winds known as loo are also likely to come after April 10,” says Kuldeep Srivastava, a senior officer at IMD.

So why are the temperatures soaring? “Increasing vehicular emissions are the culprit,” says Ajay Gupta, General Secretary of the National Environmental Science.

These gases are emitted by the multitude of vehicles in the  Capital and from industries. The number of vehicles in Delhi is three times that in the rest of the country, which aggravates the situation here. Adding to this are the emissions from the burning of agricultural wastes in Punjab and Haryana. “What should have been used as biomass is being burned openly. These burnings emit a large amount of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide, which are the main greenhouse gases,” says Gupta.

He also adds that the number of trees in the capital  cannot counter the ill effects of the number of vehicles plying in the city at a point of time.

“The scorching heat is nothing but the consequence of man-made activities. The only solution is adding more green spaces to the city,” he concludes.               n