As summer 2022 set in, several parts of India, especially the northwest, central and eastern regions, experienced searing heatwave conditions with the mercury jumping past normal levels to hover above 45 degrees Celcius in many states.
April broke all records to become the hottest month for northwest and central India in 122 years with the maximum temperature reaching up to 47 degrees Celsius. With India experiencing an average temperature of 35.05 degrees Celcius, it was the fourth hottest April in 122 years. The western state of Maharashtra reported at least 25 deaths due to heat stroke since late March, the highest in five years.
Even though sporadic rains have brought relief to several states and a cyclone is brewing in the South Andaman Sea, the worst is yet to be over as the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) predicts another spell of heatwave to hit northwest and central India in the next few days.
Modi takes stock of heatwave, monsoon preparedness
Prime Minister Narendra on Thursday took stock of the situation by chairing a meeting on heatwave management measures and monsoon preparedness.
According to the Prime Minister’s Office, representatives from the IMD and the National Disaster Management Authority, who attended the meeting, briefed Modi about the persistence of high temperatures between March and May this year.
The prime minister stressed on the need to take necessary measures to avoid deaths due to heatstroke and fire incidents, a common occurrence during summer. He said the concerned agencies should immediately respond to any such incident to minimize casualties.
According to the PMO, Modi spoke about the need to protect forests against fires, enhance capabilities of forest personnel and institutions to help them detect possible fires and fight fires, as well as speed up recovery after a fire incident.
Keeping the upcoming monsoon season in mind, Modi instructed officials to ensure that drinking water is not contaminated to avoid the spread of water-borne diseases. The prime minister also called for an effective coordination between central and state government officials to handle any heatwave or monsoon-related issue.
No relent from heatwave, fresh alert
In its latest bulletin, the IMD has forecast a fresh bout of heatwave to hit northwest and central India from May 7 and May 8 onwards.
A heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celcius and is at least 4.5 degrees above normal. If the temperature if 6.4 notches above normal, then a severe heatwave is declared.
Heatwave condition is expected to prevail particularly over central Maharashtra (on May 5), and is likely to take Rajasthan in its grip between May 7 and May 9. The weathermen predict heatwave to persist in south Haryana, southwest Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha (Maharashtra) and Delhi from May 8 to May 9.
Rain comes as relief, cyclone alert in South Andaman Sea
After a hot March and even sweltering April, several regions in north, central and eastern India found relief in the form of rainfall.
Even as the eastern states of Odisha and West Bengal are experiencing a relief from the scorching heat, after receiving heavy spells of rain with thunderstorms for the past couple of days, a cyclone brewing in the South Andaman Sea is likely to bring more rains.
Weathermen have forecast the formation of a low pressure area over South Andaman Sea on May 6. The low pressure is expected to intensify into a depression in the next 48 hours and move northwestwards. It is expected to bring heavy rainfall over Andaman and Nicobar islands between May 6 and May 8.
The Odisha government has issued an alert in 18 districts asking respective district administrations to be prepared for the cyclone.
The IMD has also warned fishermen against venturing into the Andaman Sea over the next five days; into the southeast and east-central parts of the Bay of Bengal till May 9 and into west-central part of the bay on May 8 and May 9.