Rain shortfall to blame for early, intense heat in Delhi, says weather office

Published on May 16, 2022 05:52 AM IST
  • This first month of the year was Delhi’s wettest January in 121 years, and February was the city’s wettest in eight years.
Officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said heatwave conditions are likely to continue over the Capital. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
Officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said heatwave conditions are likely to continue over the Capital. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)
By, New Delhi

The Capital may have been breaking rainfall records in January and February this year, but since March 1, Delhi hasn’t seen any significant showers, one of the factors experts that said was behind the early and intense heat spell across the city.

This first month of the year was Delhi’s wettest January in 121 years, and February was the city’s wettest in eight years. But between March 1 and May 15, Delhi has recorded just 1.7mm of rain — a deficit of 95.5% percent against the normal rainfall of 37.5mm.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said this lack of rain is the primary catalyst for the intense, and prolonged, heat spell across the region, with Delhi in particular not recording any significant western disturbance in this time either.

“We have seen western disturbances in March, April and May, but none strong enough to bring substantial rainfall. Most either led to cloudy skies or stronger winds, which can push the maximum temperature by a degree or two, but cannot provide relief,” said RK Jenamani, scientist at IMD.

During this period, Delhi has recorded only two rainy days — April 21, when it received a paltry 0.3mm of rainfall and on May 4, when it got 1.4mm of rain.

In March, Delhi failed to record any rain at all in the entire month – the first time this happened since March 2018. This led to the Capital recording the fourth highest mean maximum temperature for the month (32.9°C) between 1951 and 2022 and the second highest mean minimum (17.6°C) for the same period. On March 30, Delhi also recorded its joint-second hottest March day, when the maximum touched 39.6°C, behind only 2021, when the mercury hit 40.1°C degrees in the month.

In the absence of rain, more heat records tumbled in April, with Delhi recording a mean maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees, making it the second hottest April between 1951 and 2022. It was only hotter in 2010 (40.4) degrees.

While the average rainfall for March is 15.9mm, it is 12.2mm for April. For May, it is 19.7mm, with 9.4mm the normal mark till May 15. “For the first 10 days of May, the maximum temperature stayed close to the normal mark and Delhi also saw light rainfall and isolated hailstorm activity. However, heatwave conditions have returned because there is no strong western disturbance prevailing in the region,” said a met official.

While a western disturbance is expected from Monday, it will be a weak one again and is unlikely to bring any rain. Another western disturbance is forecast for May 21, but this too is unlikely to be accompanied by showers. “The second western disturbance is likely to cause gusty winds and dust storms. The maximum will drop by a few degrees, but stay above 40°C,” a Met official said.

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