Heatwave to ease gradually in North India over next 2-3 days: IMD

The IMD noted maximum temperatures were 3-6°C above normal over many parts of Northwest India and in isolated pockets of Central and East India.

Blistering heatwave conditions scorching North, Northwest and Central India are expected to abate gradually over the next two to three days, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) reported, providing some respite from the intense heat that has gripped large swaths of the country.

India has endured a relentless heatwave since mid-May, with multiple states experiencing temperatures well above normal for several consecutive days. The IMD noted maximum temperatures were 3-6°C above normal over many parts of Northwest India and in isolated pockets of Central and East India.

Sri Ganganagar in West Rajasthan recorded a punishing high of 48.3°C (119°F). Heatwave conditions have persisted in Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi and Rajasthan since May 17, while Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh have suffered the scorching heat since May 18.

However, the IMD has forecast some relief, predicting a gradual fall in maximum temperatures by 2-3°C over northwest and central India over the next three days.

The reprieve comes as the sweltering temperatures have taken a severe toll, with at least 24 deaths suspected to be caused by heatstroke reported in Bihar and Odisha on Thursday alone. The heatwave conditions in those states are expected to continue until Saturday.

Heatwaves have become an increasingly dangerous annual occurrence in India due to climate change. This year’s scorching temperatures arrived earlier than normal, following the warmest March on record for the country.

Experts have warned that without substantive action to curtail carbon emissions, heatwaves will likely become more frequent, intense and prolonged across South Asia in the coming decades, putting millions at risk of heat-related illnesses and deaths.

As India grapples with the impacts of rising global temperatures, government authorities have ramped up preparation measures like health advisories, establishing cooling centres and rescheduling work hours. However, impoverished areas with limited access to cooling infrastructure remain highly vulnerable.

The incoming marginal temperature dip is expected to provide temporary relief, but concerns remain over longer-term climate trends exposing the country’s densely populated regions to greater environmental stresses each year.