Temperatures in many parts of northern and western India hovered around 45°C on Thursday, making India hotter than West Asia, which recorded temperatures around 40°C, and even parts of North Africa.
And it isn’t going to get any better soon.
The monsoon that had slowed down temporarily is back on its path and is expected to hit Kerala on May 30-31. But Delhi will have to wait till at least June 29, when the monsoon is scheduled to hit the city.
The heat wave has already claimed the lives of 300 people this summer, including 100 in Gujarat, 92 in Maharashtra, 35 in Rajasthan, 34 in Bihar and four in Madhya Pradesh.
“The heat is unbearable. It’s like hell on earth,” said Rashid Hasan, 35, in Delhi.
Another Delhi resident Susan Mathew, 33, said she was not sure if she should stay indoors or go out. “Humidity levels are so high. With frequent power cuts, we can’t run air conditioners all day. You get soaked indoors and toasted outdoors. What does one do?” she wondered.
Weather officials said the high temperatures were expected. “We are entering the peak of summer. This is how it goes,” weather bureau chief Ajit Tyagi told HT.
But Shimla, known as the Queen of the Hills, recorded its hottest day ever on Thursday. At 32.4°C, the capital of Himachal Pradesh, was 8.3°C above normal.
Temperatures in Gujarat have also been hovering around 46°C, with Idar in north Gujarat touching 48.5°C — the highest recorded ever.
Temperatures in most parts of Maharashtra soared above 44°C. In Rajasthan, three people died due to the heat on Thursday. Bikaner was roasting at 47.6 °C, while Jaipur was at 43°C.
Peak temperatures will last until pre-monsoon showers, likely after mid-June in Delhi and other northern cities.
Temperatures in Delhi, Chandigarh and Japiur are also forecast to drop slightly from Thursday to Saturday because of dust-bearing winds. They may not bring rain, but dust clouds over Delhi, Rajasthan, western UP and Haryana will act as a shield from the sun.
The weather bureau’s national bulletin for the next five days promises some relief. “Fall in maximum temperatures by 2-4°C over northwest for next two to three days,” it reads.
Enjoy until it lasts. After that, temperatures are expected to rise again.
(With inputs from Shimla, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Chandigarh and Nagpur)