Delhi swelters at 43.7°C, real feel of 51 | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Delhi swelters at 43.7°C, real feel of 51

May 23, 2023 04:55 AM IST

On Monday, 5 of Delhi’s 13 weather stations recorded a peak temperature of more than 45°C.

Five of Delhi’s 13 weather stations recorded a peak temperature of more than 45°C on Monday, a threshold that qualifies for a heatwave tag, as the Capital sizzled under the scorching sun and hot winds for a second straight day, with humidity making the heat feel worse than the numbers showed.

People near India Gate in New Delhi on Monday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)
People near India Gate in New Delhi on Monday. (Raj K Raj/HT Photo)

Also Read: Heatwave-like conditions expected in Delhi until Tuesday

The city’s official reading, recorded at the base station of Safdarjung, was a maximum of 43.7°C, the highest recorded in the year so far.

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Najafgarh and the Sports Complex (Akshardham) stations were the hottest with a maximum temperature of 46.2°C.

Monday’s maximum was higher than the 42.9 degrees Celsius recorded on Sunday, while the Heat Index (HI), or, more colloquially, “real feel temperature”, was even hotter: at 2:30pm, an air temperature of 42.6°C combined with a relative humidity of 34% meant the HI hovered around 51°C.

This was significantly higher than the HI of 45°C on Sunday.

HI is a calculation that represents conditions in the shade and prolonged exposure to a heat index of 26–32°C will likely cause fatigue in many people, while 32–40°C is widely associated with sunstroke, and 40–54°C with heatstroke.

Similar weather conditions are likely in the first half of Tuesday but there are chances of a drizzle in the second half as a western disturbance begins to impact the region, India Meteorological Department predictions said. There will be more rain Wednesday onwards and a drop in temperature, the weather department said.

While IMD does not calculate HI yet for individual stations, it has begun giving out HI-based forecasts this summer onwards, identifying which parts of the country are most likely to be impacted by a combination of high humidity and temperature.

Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD, said: “We are seeing moisture intrusion already from this approaching western disturbance, which increased the relatively humidity on Monday in comparison to Sunday. This also made Monday feel more uncomfortable. While the first half of Tuesday will see similar weather with the maximum expected to be between 43 and 45°C, we will start seeing cloudiness from the evening.”

A yellow alert has been issued for the public to take precautions due to the heat. A different yellow alert was announced for Wednesday and Thursday, this time for light rain and gusty winds.

“From Wednesday onwards, there will be a sharp dip in temperature, with it going below 40°C. On Wednesday, it is likely to be around 39 degrees, while the maximum is forecast to be around 36 degrees on Thursday,” Srivastava said, stating Friday and Saturday will also see drizzle to very light rain.

The sweltering heat in the Capital underlined the importance of heat action plans — something Delhi has often been lax on — and the need for authorities to be more observant and alert as the mercury rises this summer. The tragic deaths of 14 people at an event in Maharashtra last month showed that heat can affect the human body quickly and unpredictably. The sharp rise in the Delhi temperature is another reminder that the administration needs to remain vigilant, especially when it comes to underprivileged people who don’t have access to cooling.

According to IMD, heatwave occurs when the maximum temperature is over 40°C Celsius and 4.5 degrees or more above normal. On Monday, five stations met this criteria: Najafgarh and Sports Complex (46.2°C), Pusa (45.8°C), Pitampura (45.8°C) and Narela (45.3°C).

Historically, Delhi has seen higher maximum temperatures at Safdarjung in the past few years in May than it did on Monday.

Last May, the mercury went as high 45.6°C on May 16. In 2020, it touched 46°C on May 27; 44.7°C on May 31, 2019 and 45°C on May 27, 2018.

The minimum temperature too rose on Monday with a reading of 27.3°C, a degree above normal. In comparison, it was 24°C on Sunday.

In terms of air quality, Delhi’s average quality index (AQI) showed an improvement, returning to the moderate category on Monday. The 24-hour average AQI stood at 199 (moderate) on Monday, while it was 215 (poor) on Sunday. Forecasts show AQI is likely to return to the poor category on Tuesday, with strong dust-raising winds playing a key role in that.

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