A heat wave sweeping vast swathes of India will be at its severest in the next 2-3 days, the weatherman said on Wednesday, raising the alert level to the highest ‘red’ that could see temperatures rising to 47 degrees Celsius in several cities including Delhi.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) warning came in the midst of searing temperatures across north, west and central India, pushing the mercury past 47 degrees Celsius in some parts of the National Capital Region on Wednesday. The IMD asked people to take precautions against the heat wave.
“We advise people to stay cautious against the heat wave in Delhi,” a Met official said. Doctors advised people to take lot of fluids and avoid getting out in the sun between 11 am and 4 pm to avoid heatstroke.
The IMD issues heat wave warning under three colour codes –green, yellow and red.
“This intense heat wave will continue for (the) next 2-3 days in north, west and central India. Red warning has been issued, it is the highest order warning for heat wave to severe heat wave,” ANI quoted IMD director BP Yadav as saying.
He said Wednesday was the hottest day of the season adding that Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Rajasthan, Gujarat, MP, south of UP and Vidarbha are facing the maximum heat wave.
According to private weather forecasters, the temperature in Palam and Noida in Delhi soared to 47 degrees Celsius, mostly attributed to dry winds from the northwest.
“In Palam area of Delhi, the temperature reached 47 degrees Celsius. The condition in Gujarat is even worse as the temperature in Ahmedabad touched 50 degrees Celsius, later dropping to 49 degrees,” private weather forecaster Skymet’s director Mahesh Palawat told IANS.
A report by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) had said April this year was the hottest month globally on record. Closer home, Delhi has been witnessing a hotter than usual summer as well.
Data from the IMD said the average maximum temperature in April was 2.3 degrees above normal while the minimum was 1.7 degrees above normal. In meteorological terms, where an increase in even decimal points is viewed very seriously, this increase was significant.
As the mercury soared in NCR, traffic dwindled on roads and people scurried for shade as a fiery sun beat down.
Roadside vendors in Noida, where many offices are located, faced a hard time as it became almost unbearable to stand near stoves and ovens in the scorching heat.
Sales dipped as most people preferred to remain indoors, especially in the air-conditioned comfort of their offices and homes.
“It was low business day today as many regulars did not turn up for their evening cuppa,” said Satya Prakash, a tea vendor near Film City, Noida.
Manual labourers, including the rickshaw drivers, had a tough time.
Most parts of Gujarat also reeled under severe heat wave conditions.
“Severe heat wave conditions continue in most parts of north Gujarat and Kutch region, which means in many parts the temperature may go up to 47 degrees Celsius. The condition is likely to continue till May 21,” Jayanta Sarkar, director of Ahmedabad meteorological centre said.
There is no official statistics of aggregated heat-related deaths, but searing temperatures coupled with a drought is said to have killed hundreds this year, and left not enough food to eat or water to drink in parts of an area that holds about 25% of India’s 1.2 billion people.
As many as 309 heat-related deaths have been reported in Telangana alone since the beginning of this summer, the state’s disaster management department said on Wednesday.
Officials transported water in trains to towns and villages in the west earlier this month amid reports of children collapsing in the heat while fetching water, and of armed men guarding wells and ponds in Madhya Pradesh to stop farmers stealing water.