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Explained: Why the present heatwave in North India is unusual

Heatwave in India: A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days. A look at how this breaks trends, Cyclone Amphan's role, and what is expected to follow.

Written by Anjali Marar , Edited by Explained Desk | Pune | Updated: May 29, 2020 2:54:30 pm



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At 46 degrees, Delhi saw its hottest May day since 2002 on Tuesday (Express photo by Anil Sharma)
For the past five days, Rajasthan, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Maharashtra have been experiencing severe to very severe heatwave conditions. In its very first spell this summer, this heatwave pushed day temperatures significantly above normal, with Churu in Rajasthan reporting 50 degrees on Tuesday. Here is why this summer is slightly unusual.


What is a heatwave and when is it declared?
Heatwaves occur over India between March and June. Meteorologists declare a heatwave event when the maximum (day) temperature for a location in the plains crosses 40 degrees Celsius. Over the hills, the threshold temperature is 30 degrees Celsius. When the day temperature jumps by 4 to 5 degrees above the normal maximum temperature of a location, it is declared as a heatwave.
For example, if the normal maximum temperature for a location in the plains on a given day should be 40 degrees but records 45 degrees, then that location is experiencing a heatwave. Alternatively, any location where maximum temperature crosses 45 degrees or shows a departure of over 6 degrees from normal, it is a severe heatwave condition.

How long can a heatwave spell last?
A heatwave spell generally lasts for a minimum of four days. On some occasions, it can extend up to seven or ten days. The longest recorded heatwave spell, in recent years, was between 18 – 31 May 2015. This spell had severely affected parts of West Bengal along with Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. A similar spell in 2014 was reported during June 2 – June 11.



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Summer season reaches its peak by May 15 in India, when the day temperatures across north, west, and central India cross 40 degrees and hover close to 45 degrees then on. (Express photo by Harmeet Sodhi)
The current heatwave spell commenced on May 22 and is likely to continue till May 29. Heatwave conditions occurring in May have been observed to last longer, as the season reaches its peak this month. Whereas those reported in June often die down sooner, often due to the onset of Southwest monsoon over the location or in its neighbourhood.
Does all of India experience heatwave conditions?
No. Heatwaves are common over the Core Heatwave Zone (CHZ) — Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, West Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Vidarbha in Maharashtra, parts of Gangetic West Bengal, Coastal Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, as categorised by India Meteorological Department.
Several recent studies indicate that CHZ experience more than six heatwave days per year during these four months. Many places in the northwest and cities along southeastern coast report eight heatwave days per season. However, the regions in the extreme north, northeast and southwestern India are lesser prone to heatwaves.

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A migrant woman in Punjab shields her child from the scorching sun while waiting for a bus (Express photo by Gurmeet Singh)

So why did the country experience an unusual summer sans heatwaves, till the third week of May?
Summer season reaches its peak by May 15 in India, when the day temperatures across north, west, and central India cross 40 degrees and hover close to 45 degrees then on. This year, north India did not experience such temperatures till May 21. It was mainly because of the continuous inflow of Western Disturbances that influenced the weather in the north till as late as April. Since last winter, there was frequent passing of Western Disturbances over the north, appearing after every five to seven days. Originating in the Mediterranean Sea, Western Disturbances are eastward-moving winds that blow in lower atmospheric levels. They affect the local weather of a region during its onward journey.
Between January and March this year, there were about 20 Western Disturbances, a record of sorts. When Western Disturbances interact with weather systems heading from the two southern seas, that is, warm winds blowing in from the Bay of Bengal or the Arabian Sea, they cause snowfall or rainfall over the north. A significant influence of Western Disturbances is experienced during December to February. However, this year, its influence persisted till early May.

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Migrant workers cover themselves with a scarf, to protect from heat as they wait to get registered before boarding a train to their home state of eastern Bihar, during an extended lockdown to slow the spreading of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New Delhi. (Reuters)
The recent Western Disturbances got support from easterly winds blowing over from the Bay of Bengal. It resulted in rainfall and thunderstorm activities over parts of Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, north Madhya Pradesh and Delhi until mid-May, keeping atmospheric conditions cooler than normal for summer standards. As per IMD, the All India average temperature in 2020 recorded fell below normal and remained — January (- 0.6 degrees), February (+ 0.2 degrees), March (- 0.8 degrees) and April (- 0.1 degree). A similar trend is expected even in May.


Has cyclone Amphan influenced the current heatwave?
Since the event of severe heat has emerged immediately after the passing of Cyclone Amphan, experts confirm its role in leading to the present heatwave spell. Cyclone Amphan, which was a massive Super Storm covering 700 kms, managed to drag maximum moisture from over the Bay of Bengal, entire South Peninsula, parts of Central India and to some extent, even from the Arabian Sea.
All the moisture, that was otherwise built during the thunderstorm and rainfall, got gradually depleted from over vast areas as the storm advanced towards West Bengal and Bangladesh between May 16 and 20. It has now triggered dry north-westerly winds to blow over Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra causing severe heatwave.


Explained: Why the present heatwave in North India is unusual
 

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Heatwave in India: NASA’s satellite images show horrid scenes of 2020 summer [VISUALS]
India

Murukesh
Murukesh

Updated May 28, 2020 | 13:22 IST



The intense heatwave has left people gasping for breath and the horrid climate has made it worse for the lakhs of migrants walking back home from faraway lands due to the coronavirus lockdown.


The NASA satellite footage showing heatwave in India.


The NASA satellite footage showing heatwave in India. | Visuals: NASA Worldview


KEY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Churu in Rajasthan recorded 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the district’s second-highest maximum temperature for May in the past 10 years
  • The Palam Observatory in Delhi on Wednesday recorded the highest maximum temperature at 47.2 degrees Celsius, slightly less than Tuesday’s 47.6 degrees Celsius
Heat. Hunger. Health.
India is currently experiencing one of the toughest phases in recent history. A pandemic that continues to rage through the country of 1.35 billion people, hungry migrants moving in lakhs across the length and breadth of the nation, and to add to India’s woes, an unbearable blanket of heatwave.
Temperatures have been soaring in an unrestrained manner over the past one month and a comparative study done by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the past 30 days shows a yellowish blanket all over the country.
The intense heatwave has left people gasping for breath and the horrid climate has made it worse for the lakhs of migrants walking back home from faraway lands due to the coronavirus lockdown.


The satellite visuals from NASA show a clear picture of how bad the situation in India at this point.

Heatwave India NASA satellite images


27 May 2020
The India Meteorological Department had predicted the heatwave to last at least for five-six days and in the current forecast, the weathermen have said that the existing condition is expected to get better from Thursday.


Heatwave India NASA satellite images



27 April 2020
Churu in Rajasthan recorded 50 degrees Celsius on Tuesday, the district’s second-highest maximum temperature for May in the past 10 years. The Palam Observatory in Delhi on Wednesday recorded the highest maximum temperature at 47.2 degrees Celsius, slightly less than Tuesday’s 47.6 degrees Celsius.
The heatwave has engulfed almost all of north and central India, as most places in the region recorded temperatures more than 47 degrees Celsius every day for the past five days.
Churu recorded 49.6 degrees on Thursday, followed by Ganganagar (48.9 degrees) and Bikaner in Rajasthan; Bathinda (Punjab) recorded 47.5 degrees Celsius.
“Under the influence of a western disturbance and an east-west trough and likely occurrence of rain/thunderstorm from May 28-30, maximum temperatures over plains of north India likely to recede from May 28 onwards with substantial reduction of heat wave conditions from May 29,” the IMD said on Thursday.


Heatwave in India: NASA’s satellite images show horrid scenes of 2020 summer [VISUALS]
 

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Light Rain, Winds Lower Temperature In Delhi, Bring Relief After Hot Week

IMD said heatwave has disappeared from northwest part of India for now. Day temperature to stay below 40 degrees Celsius for three to four days

Delhi
Edited by Nandini Gupta
Updated: May 29, 2020 08:31 pm IST



Light Rain, Winds Lower Temperature In Delhi, Bring Relief After Hot Week

IMD has said thunderstorm, gusty winds will likely continue in isolated places till Sunday.


New Delhi:
Light rain and strong winds brought down the temperature in parts of Delhi and its nearby areas for second day in a row today - a week after states in the country's northwestern plains recorded unusually high day temperatures.
As soon as wind speed picked up and the sun gave way to clouds and rain, people in the national capital took to Twitter to share their excitement about the pleasant weather.

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Earlier this week, Delhi had recorded the hottest day in May in 18 years as Rajasthan's Churu touched 50 degrees Celsius. Mercury in parts of Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had oscillated between 46-48 degrees Celsius as many parts in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir recorded temperatures in the mid-40s.
"Heatwave has disappeared from the Northwest part of India. The temperature has come down… After a couple of days, there would be a slight increase in the temperature. In May end, we would have pleasant weather," IMD Deputy Director-General Anand Sharma said.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said isolated thunderstorm and lightning, hail, gusty winds will likely continue over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan till Sunday.
The IMD added that the progress of the southwest monsoon is on track and is likely to hit Kerala on June 1. "It is a good sign. First week is going to be good for west coast, especially up to Maharashtra," Mr Sharma said.


Light Rain, Winds Lower Temperature In Delhi, Bring Relief After Hot Week
 

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Two earthquakes hit Haryana's Rohtak with magnitudes of 4.5, 2.9; tremors also felt in Delhi, says NCS

India Press Trust of India May 29, 2020 23:18:30 IST

New Delhi: Two earthquakes hit Rohtak in Haryana in a span of an hour on Friday, tremors of which were felt in Delhi, the National Centre for Seismology said.
The first quake, a medium intensity one of 4.5 magnitude, hit the Haryana city at 9.08 pm at a depth of 5 kilometre.


 Two earthquakes hit Haryanas Rohtak with magnitudes of 4.5, 2.9; tremors also felt in Delhi, says NCS


Representational image. PTI

The second quake was of lower intensity of magnitude 2.9 and occurred at the same location at 10 pm, the NCS said.

There were no immediate reports of any loss of life or property. Rohtak is nearly 60 kilometres from Delhi.
The areas around Delhi are known for reporting low-intensity earthquakes.
Since 12 April, Delhi alone has reported four low intensity quakes — 12 April (3.5), 12 April (2.7), 10 May (3.4) and 15 May (2.2).
Updated Date: May 29, 2020 23:18:30 IST


Two earthquakes hit Haryana's Rohtak with magnitudes of 4.5, 2.9; tremors also felt in Delhi, says NCS - Firstpost
 

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Light Rain, Winds Lower Temperature In Delhi, Bring Relief After Hot Week

IMD said heatwave has disappeared from northwest part of India for now. Day temperature to stay below 40 degrees Celsius for three to four days

Delhi
Edited by Nandini Gupta
Updated: May 29, 2020 08:31 pm IST


New Delhi:
Light rain and strong winds brought down the temperature in parts of Delhi and its nearby areas for second day in a row today - a week after states in the country's northwestern plains recorded unusually high day temperatures.

As soon as wind speed picked up and the sun gave way to clouds and rain, people in the national capital took to Twitter to share their excitement about the pleasant weather.

See Akshay Naik's other Tweets




See Bobby Roy's other Tweets




See Kenny's other Tweets




16 people are talking about this


Earlier this week, Delhi had recorded the hottest day in May in 18 years as Rajasthan's Churu touched 50 degrees Celsius. Mercury in parts of Haryana, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh had oscillated between 46-48 degrees Celsius as many parts in Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir recorded temperatures in the mid-40s.

"Heatwave has disappeared from the Northwest part of India. The temperature has come down… After a couple of days, there would be a slight increase in the temperature. In May end, we would have pleasant weather," IMD Deputy Director-General Anand Sharma said.


The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said isolated thunderstorm and lightning, hail, gusty winds will likely continue over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan till Sunday.

The IMD added that the progress of the southwest monsoon is on track and is likely to hit Kerala on June 1. "It is a good sign. First week is going to be good for west coast, especially up to Maharashtra," Mr Sharma said.

Light Rain, Winds Lower Temperature In Delhi, Bring Relief After Hot Week
 

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4.6-magnitude mild-intensity earthquake jolts Haryana; strong tremors felt in Delhi-NCR

Earthquake tremors felt in Delhi and surrounding areas on Friday (May 29). Tremors were felt in Haryana, Punjab and NCR today evening. The National Centre for Seismology said the quake occured at around 9:08 pm and the epicentre is at Haryana's Rohtak.


4.6-magnitude mild-intensity earthquake jolts Haryana; strong tremors felt in Delhi-NCR

Representational Image

Written By:

Zee Media Bureau


Edited By:

Ankita Bhandari
@ankita_katty

Updated:
May 29, 2020, 21:50 PM IST

New Delhi: A mild intensity earthquake of 4.6 magnitude on Ritcher scale jolted parts of eastern Haryana and Delhi-National Capital Region on Friday (May 29) at 9.08 pm. The earthquake's epicentre was Rohtak in Haryana and the depth was 3.3 kilometres.
"An earthquake with a magnitude of 4.6 on the Richter Scale hit 16 km East-Southeast of Rohtak in Haryana at 21:08 hours today," stated National Center for Seismology.
However, there were no reports of any casualties or damage.

According to reports, strong tremors were felt in parts of Gurugram, Faridabad, Greater Noida, Rohtak, Jind, Sonepat and surrounding areas of the national capital; whereas Chandigarh and Punjab reported mild tremors.
The tremors triggered panic among the local residents, who rushed out of their houses for their safety.
Just a day ago, on May 28, a low-intensity earthquake jolted Haryana’s Faridabad, neighbouring Delhi. According to the NCS, the low-intensity earthquake measured 2.5-magnitude on the Richter Scale with its epicentre in Nacholi in Faridabad.

The epicentre of the earthquake was 8km East of Faridabad, Haryana, according to the seismologists.
So far, this was the sixth such earthquake to have hit the national capital territory since April 13 and the fourth one in the month of May alone.

4.6-magnitude mild-intensity earthquake jolts Haryana; strong tremors felt in Delhi-NCR
 

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2 storms forming over Arabian Sea, area to be under close watch
The India Meteorological Department is predicting the forming of two disturbances over the Arabian Sea. One cyclonic circulation has already turned into a low pressure area while the other is yet to form


India Today Web Desk
India Today Web Desk
New DelhiMay 28, 2020UPDATED: May 28, 2020 21:46 IST

2 cyclonic storms forming over Arabian Sea, area to be under close watch


Disturbances seen over the Arabian Sea (Photo courtesy: IMD)

There are disturbances brewing over the Arabian Sea that will be worth keeping an eye on over the next few days, if current predictions from the weather office are anything to go by. The India Meteorological Department is tracking a "cyclonic circulation" near the African coast that has a high chance of turning into a storm early next week. Simultaneously, the IMD is also tracking another disturbance -- this one a bit closer to India -- that's likely to intensify in the coming days.
According the IMD, a cyclonic circulation over the Arabian Sea and off the African coast has developed into a low pressure area and is likely to turn into a depression in the next two days and intensify even further by Sunday or Monday. The chances of this happening range between 76 per cent and 100 per cent, the IMD said in its tropical cyclones bulletin dated Thursday, May 28.
FYI: Low pressure area and depression are the first two classifications on the IMD's eight-level cyclone categorisation system where the eighth is a 'super cyclonic storm'.
As the predicted depression takes shape, it is expected to move towards the coasts of Oman and Yemen in Africa, the IMD said, adding that further intensification is likely.
Meanwhile, the IMD has is also predicting that another low pressure area is likely to form over the Arabian Sea early next week. This disturbance will be to the right of the current low pressure area, a bit closer to India.
Both of these are early-stage predictions and a lot could change in the coming days. The area over the Arabian Sea will be under constant watch for the next five days, the IMD has said.


2 storms forming over Arabian Sea, area to be under close watch
 

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IMD tracks low-pressure system in Arabian Sea and its impact on monsoon, says heatwave is gone

The weather department had said earlier on Friday that the monsoon is likely to hit Kerala on June 1.

INDIA Updated: May 29, 2020 16:00 IST
hindustantimes.com | Edited by: Amit Chaturvedi

hindustantimes.com | Edited by: Amit Chaturvedi
Hindustan Times, New Delhi

Dark clouds and rain streaks are seen above Kangra Valley in Dharmsala, on Thursday. The Himalayan region saw some strong winds and heavy rain.


Dark clouds and rain streaks are seen above Kangra Valley in Dharmsala, on Thursday. The Himalayan region saw some strong winds and heavy rain.(AP Photo)

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has said that the southwest monsoon has further advanced into some parts of southwest and southeast Arabian Sea. In its weather outlook released on Friday afternoon, the IMD further said that conditions are becoming favourable for further advance of the monsoon.
A low-pressure area is likely to form in the Aabia Sea on May 31. “The low-pressure area is very likely to concentrate into a depression over the West-Central Arabian Sea during the next 24 hours and likely to intensify further thereafter,” the IMD said in its outlook.
“The low-pressure area is likely to move northwestwards across south Oman and east Yemen coasts during next 48 hours and then move west-southwestwards,” it further said.
It also predicted scattered rainfall accompanied with lightening and squall in western Himalayan region and adjoining plains for three days under the influence of a western disturbance and an east-west trough.

The IMD said that heatwave has abated from most parts of the country, and relief from extreme heat will be there from May 30 to June 2.
The weather department had said earlier on Friday that the monsoon is likely to hit Kerala on June 1.
Anand Sharma, Deputy Director-General, India Meteorological Department (IMD), said that due to the prevalence of western disturbance over Himalayan region, the North-Western parts of the country would have temperatures less than 40 degrees Celsius in the coming days.

“We have said that monsoon will hit Kerala on 1st June, it’s a good sign. First week is going to be good for west coast especially up to Maharashtra,” he said.
The advance of the monsoon over Indian mainland is marked by monsoon onset over Kerala and is an important indicator characterising the transition from hot and dry season to a rainy season. As the monsoon progresses northward, relief from scorching summer temperatures is experienced over the areas.

IMD tracks low-pressure system in Arabian Sea and its impact on monsoon, says heatwave is gone
 

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Double storm activity over Arabian Sea picks up, depression likely to form near India coast
The India Meteorological Department is currently tracking two cyclonic disturbances over the Arabian Sea. The first one is near the African coast while the second one is expected to form opposite the Indian coast


India Today Web Desk

India Today Web Desk
Mumbai
May 29, 2020
UPDATED: May 29, 2020 14:56 IST


Arabian Sea cyclone: Double storm activity picks up, depression likely to form near India coast


The two cyclonic disturbances that are being tracked by the India Meteorological Department (Photo: Google Earth)


HIGHLIGHTS
  • Two storms are forming over the Arabian Sea, IMD forecast suggests
  • 1st will turn into a depression and cross the African coast over the weekend
  • 2nd will turn into a depression early next and lie opposite the India coast

Two storms are forming over the Arabian Sea, fresh predictions from the weather department indicate. One of them has already turned into a low pressure system and is likely to become a depression over the next one day with further intensification likely. It currently lies off the African coast and is likely to move over Oman and Yemen.
The second weather system is in infancy and is likely to intensify into a low pressure area by Sunday and then a depression early next week. This one will be a bit close to India, somewhere opposite the southern part of India's west coast.
A low pressure area and a depression are the first two levels on the India Meteorological Department's eight-category scale used to classify cyclones based on their intensity.
In its latest cyclone bulletin, the IMD has predicted that a low pressure area that's formed near the African coast is likely to turn into a depression in the next 24 hours. It is likely to intensify even further in the coming days and might cross the coasts of Oman and Yemen in Africa. Accordingly, Oman's weather department has issued an alert for rainfall in certain regions of the country and rough seas along the coastal areas of Arabian Sea.
Meanwhile, the IMD is tracking another cyclonic disturbance over the Arabian Sea, this one a little nearer to the Indian coast. The disturbance is likely to turn in a low pressure area by May 31 and then intensify further into a depression around June 3, or Wednesday next week. The predicted depression will lie over the Arabian Sea somewhere opposite the coasts of Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka.

Double storm activity over Arabian Sea picks up, depression likely to form near India coast
 
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