Citizens in India may have a whole lot more to deal with than just the coronavirus pandemic, as increasing temperatures are likely to further exacerbate the situation for the 1.3 billion people ordered to stay indoors in the world’s biggest COVID-19 lockdown.
With the onset of summer, temperatures across several central and west India districts have already touched the 40 degrees Celsius mark and blistering heat wave is likely to grip many parts of the country in the coming days.
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), several cities and districts in the western state of Gujarat recorded maximum temperature of above 40 degrees Celsius.
Ahmedabad, Gujarat’s largest city, recorded a temperature of 42 degrees Celsius (3 degrees above normal), while temperatures in the towns of Bhuj and Naliya in Kachchh District, were 42.5 and 40.8 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Likewise, temperatures over Gwalior, a city in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, and Akola, a city in Vidarbha region in the state of Maharashtra in central India, were 40 and 42 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Maximum temperature in national capital Delhi touched 36.9 degrees Celsius on Saturday, and rose to 37.2 degrees on Sunday. The mercury is predicted to rise even further in the next 48 hours, touching 39 degrees Celsius by Tuesday and 40 degrees Celsius by Wednesday. The ‘normal’ temperature in the capital during this time of the year is usually 36.1 degrees Celsius.
Accordingly, maximum temperatures remained 3.1 to 5 degrees Celsius above normal in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura and Nagaland; while parts of Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, west Madhya Pradesh, Kerala, coastal Karnataka, Odisha, Goa and West Bengal recorded temperatures of 1.6 to 3 degrees above normal.
“Many places have started recording above normal temperatures now. This is mainly because there is no intense weather system or a western disturbance which brings rain. Maximum temperatures across the country are likely to rise even further next week,” said K Sathi Devi, head, national weather forecasting centre.
“There is an anti-cyclone (which causes calm weather) over Gujarat. The temperature hasn’t risen much over northwest India, because of western disturbances that are affecting the region. But central India, parts of Gujarat, Odisha, Telengana, which are in heat wave zone, have started recording higher temperatures. They have clear skies and less wind,” said RK Jenamani, senior scientist at national weather forecasting centre.
According to IMD, heat wave conditions are likely to develop in Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat and over southwest Madhya Pradesh and northwest Vidarbha on April 14 and 15.
Heat wave, also called heatwave, period of prolonged abnormally high surface temperatures relative to those normally expected.
Scorching summer heat is likely to make things more difficult in India which has a population density of 464 per Km2 (1,202 people per mi2).
Millions of people are holed up inside shanties without fans and proper ventilation, making the heat extremely hard to bear.
“Normally, people might have gone out for a stroll in cooler outdoor temperatures or sat in front of their houses, but that’s not possible at the moment. With limited ventilation possibilities in low-socioeconomic houses staying indoors in such (high heat) conditions is not comfortable and even risky for a long period of time,” environmental health researcher Tanya Singh, of the University of New South Wales, Australia, said.