Scorching summer ahead in India - GulfToday

Scorching summer ahead in India

Meena Janardhan

Writer/Editor/Consultant. She has over 25 years of experience in the fields of environmental journalism and publishing.


Picture used for illustrative purposes only.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued an advisory on the scorching temperatures expected this summer in the country.

Reacting to this, a Down to Earth report states, as the 2024 summer is approaching in the Indian subcontinent, the latest seasonal outlook issued by the IMD has painted a grim picture for April, May, and June. Temperatures across India are already soaring, with four states having recorded either heatwave conditions or warm night conditions between March 27 and April 1. These are Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.

The DTE report adds that the basic criteria for the IMD to declare a heatwave is when the temperature of a place crosses 40 degrees Celsius in the plains. For coastal areas, this temperature value is 37°C and for the hills, it is 30°C. These are the thresholds set by the IMD for the declaration of heatwaves in India. Apart from this, the temperature of a particular day has to be above normal by at least 4.5°C for two consecutive days for a heatwave to be declared. When the temperature crosses 45°C, the weather agency immediately declares a heatwave without considering the deviation from normal temperature for that particular place. As per IMD’s outlook, except for isolated pockets in the east, northeast, and northwest regions, the entirety of India may experience above-normal maximum temperatures throughout April, May, and June. The situation may not be any better during the night.

The IMD’s forecast, as pointed out by a report by the Mint, highlighted the likelihood of ‘extreme heat’ across several Indian states in the upcoming months. The prediction indicated an increase in above-normal heatwave days over most plain regions, with expectations of 10 to 20 heatwave days in various parts of the country compared to the usual four to eight days. Above-normal heatwave days are likely in central India, parts of the northern plains, and south India in April. States like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, and Andhra Pradesh will be most affected. The hotter-than-usual temperatures will also raise the risk of water shortages, crop damages and higher coal use to avoid power blackouts. Specifically, central India, adjoining areas of the northern plains, and south India were mentioned to experience above-normal heatwave days in April. The forecast shows diverse climatic conditions across the Indian subcontinent. While some regions are witnessing heatwaves and dry spells, others will have wet spells.

The Mint report adds that coal reserves at power plants have jumped 38% over the past year, even as inventories remain below mandated levels. These account for about three-fourths of electricity generation and can presently last for 18 days on average. However, the weather outlook will put additional pressure on energy companies. Peak electricity demand – estimated to surge to a record 250 gigawatts this summer – may rise further in case of a prolonged heat wave.

Another Mint report paints a grim picture in the state of Telangana as it is faces acute shortage with almost all major reservoirs drying up due to a failed monsoon. The state is dealing with even a drinking water crisis while there is no water available for irrigation of Rabi crops this season. Bengaluru city also has been in the limelight, as the report says, for the acute water crisis and its impact on the residents, who will have to pay huge sums to access water. The state agriculture department submitted a report to the state government recently according to which the state is witnessing a near drought situation due to below normal rainfall during the northeast monsoon season.

According to an Indian Express article, the IMD report reveals a dire image of rising heat wave conditions in multiple areas where the temperature has already touched 42°C. Weather forecast models too do not paint a favourable image. The forewarning is that the weather may, at one point or another, worsen in eastern Madhya Pradesh, Vidarbha, Jharkhand, Gangetic West Bengal, Rayalaseema, and the northern interior parts of Karnataka. People must be prepared to face such challenges. The IMD issuing a warning as early as April 1 is unprecedented and speaks to the severity of the situation.

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