The worst heat wave is expected late this week through the end of this week with temperatures hovering around 10-15°F (5-8°C) above normal across north and northwest India as well as parts of Pakistan.
This region, including New Delhi, can withstand temperatures in the mid to highs of 40 degrees Celsius – which means temperatures above 110 and as high as 120 degrees Fahrenheit are possible.
Unfortunately, this heat will not sleep.
Extreme temperatures at night can be deadly
Little or no rest will occur during the night hours because minimum temperatures will not dip below 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) in many areas.
Long periods of warm nights can be deadly because they limit the body’s ability to recover from the heat of the day.
This is a major problem for the population of India as a large portion of them live without air-conditioning, which creates a life threatening situation, especially for the elderly.
Barmer, a city in India, already recorded a high of 45.1 degrees Celsius – 113 degrees Fahrenheit – on Tuesday.
The sweltering month of March broke the temperature record of 122 years
In the lead-up to the current severe swell, temperatures were steadily above average for March and April.
The average high temperature for March for this year was 91.58°F (33.10°C), beating the previous 2010 record of 91.56°F (33.09°C).
Since March 11, heat waves have affected 15 Indian states and union territories, according to the Center for Science and Environment (CSE), adding that “Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh suffered the most among the states, with 25 heatwave and severe heatwave days during this period.” .
The pressure pattern associated with La Niña conditions, which currently dominates the Pacific Ocean, lasted longer than expected. This, along with warm waves coming from the Arctic, has caused heat waves to form, according to Raghu Murtogod, a climate scientist at the University of Maryland.
Murtogodi added that the current impact of La Niña on spring and summer in India is completely unexpected.
April and May, known as the pre-monsoon season, are usually the hottest months of the year when the region bakes endlessly.
This heat would continue to increase into the summer months had it not been for the cloud cover and rain provided by the monsoon season.
Relief, though welcome, is slowly coming.
However, it is taking well over a month to bring relief to places in northern India, which are currently experiencing the worst heat wave.
On the bright side, models show that seasonal monsoon precipitation is likely 99% of what it normally is, according to IMD.
Monsoons are vital to the region as they provide much of India’s annual rainfall, aid in irrigation for agriculture, and provide relief from intense heat waves during the pre-monsoon season.
Heat waves in India will only get worse
“The future of heat waves looks worse even with significant mitigation of climate change, and much worse without mitigation,” said Al-Fateh Al-Taher, professor of hydrology and climate at MIT.
India is among the countries expected to be most affected by the effects of the climate crisis, according to the United Nations body on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
“More intense heat waves for longer periods and higher frequency are expected over India,” the report said.
Without any change, a potential humanitarian crisis could occur across India as large parts of the country are likely to become too hot to live in.
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