A scorching heatwave swept large parts of the country on Sunday as the death toll in the past three weeks crossed 2,200, though rain and thunderstorms brought some respite to isolated areas with the southwest monsoon missing its due date.
Southern neighbours Andhra Pradesh and Telangana continued to bake in a budding El Nino year with officials saying harsh temperatures will persist for at least another day.
Experts say an El Nino, a weather anomaly that leads to warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific, often sparks blazing heat across Asia and drags down India’s June-September monsoon.
Authorities in Andhra, which has recorded over 1,600 deaths, cancelled doctors’ leaves and advised people not to venture outside in the middle of the day to avoid the worst of the heat, but intermittent power cuts needled those who remained indoors.
Rajasthan continued to reel as the mercury headed north with Kota recording a maximum temperature of 45 degrees Celsius, while oppressive conditions were likely to prevail in many parts.
West Bengal was set to get some relief following a string of hot and humid days, with the weather office predicting rain and thunderstorms in the next 24 hours.
“Rain or thundershowers are likely to occur at isolated places in the Gangetic plains. The northern districts of Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, and Jalpaiguri are also expected to get rain in the next 24 hours,” a Met official said.
Blistering heat scorched isolated places in Uttar Pradesh with Banda district recording a maximum temperature of 46.4 degrees Celsius.
"We can't bear this heat. The situation is worsened by frequent power outages,” said Rekha Tiwari, a housewife in state capital Lucknow.
Authorities say most of those killed by the sweltering conditions are construction workers, the elderly or the homeless, exposing the vulnerability of millions of Indians who work outside in extreme temperatures that meteorologists say are increasingly common.
Light showers lashed parts of Haryana and Punjab with the mercury taking a slight dip after hovering in the range of 40-44 degrees Celsius over the past fortnight.
The monsoon that was expected to hit the Indian mainland last weekend will be delayed by four to five days and is likely to arrive in Kerala in the first week of June, said the India Meteorological Department.
“Conditions are developing. There is a change in the wind and in the coming days, it will become more stable and monsoon will arrive soon in Kerala,” said IMD director BP Yadav.
(With agency inputs)