Delhi Records Highest-Ever Temperature Amid Severe Heatwave: 49.9 Degrees Celsius

Red Alert Issued as Extreme Heat and Water Scarcity Challenge Residents and Authorities.

On May 29, 2024, Delhi recorded its highest-ever temperature of 49.9 degrees Celsius, marking a significant milestone in the severe heatwave sweeping across northern and northwest India. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert, indicating extreme heatwave conditions expected to persist until at least May 30.

The Unprecedented Heatwave

The soaring temperatures have not only affected Delhi but have also extended their grip over several regions in the northwest of the country. According to a press release from the Indian Weather Department, heat wave to severe heat wave conditions prevailed over most parts of Rajasthan, many parts of Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi, some parts of Madhya Pradesh, and isolated pockets of Uttar Pradesh. Additionally, heat wave conditions were observed in isolated pockets of Jammu-Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, and Vidarbha. Notably, Gujarat has been experiencing heat wave conditions since May 15, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, and Rajasthan since May 17, and West Madhya Pradesh & West Uttar Pradesh since May 18.

The IMD noted that warm night conditions were also observed in isolated pockets of Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh. Phalodi in West Rajasthan reported the highest maximum temperature of 49.4°C in the country during this period.

A red alert, according to the IMD, signifies a “very high likelihood” of people developing heat-related illnesses, including heat stroke. Vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, children, and those with pre-existing health conditions, are urged to exercise extreme caution during this period.

India has been experiencing unusually high temperatures this summer, with the IMD predicting the continuation of “heat wave to severe heat wave” conditions across various regions, including the capital. The criteria for declaring a heat wave in India include a maximum temperature that is 4.5 to 6.4 degrees Celsius higher than usual. A severe heat wave is declared when the maximum temperature exceeds the normal by 6.5 degrees Celsius or more.

Water Crisis and Government Response

Adding to the challenges posed by the extreme heat, Delhi is also facing a severe water crisis. Delhi’s Cabinet Minister Atishi Marlena addressed the issue on social media platform X, highlighting the drop in water levels from the Yamuna River, which supplies water to the capital. She noted that since the beginning of May, Haryana has not been releasing Delhi’s share of water. Consequently, the water level at Wazirabad has plummeted from 674.5 feet on May 1 to 669.8 feet.

Marlena’s appeal to the residents of Delhi underscores the gravity of the situation. She urged citizens to cooperate by rationalizing water usage, noting that in some areas, water supply would be reduced from twice a day to once a day. “Use water very carefully. Do not let any water go waste,” she emphasized, calling for collective efforts to navigate this challenging time.

Contrasting Weather Patterns

While parts of India grapple with extreme heat, the northeastern states experienced contrasting weather conditions. The press release mentioned heavy to very heavy rainfall with extremely heavy falls in isolated places over Meghalaya and Tripura, and heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Kerala, and Mahe.

Health and Safety Measures

With temperatures nearing the 50-degree mark, the health implications are profound. The IMD advises the public to remain indoors as much as possible, stay hydrated, and avoid strenuous activities during peak heat hours. It is also crucial to look out for symptoms of heat exhaustion and heat stroke, which include dizziness, nausea, headache, rapid heartbeat, and fainting. Immediate medical attention should be sought if these symptoms occur.

Climate Change and Future Preparedness

This record-breaking heatwave in Delhi is a stark reminder of the broader impacts of climate change. Rising global temperatures and extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and intense. There is an urgent need for comprehensive climate action plans that include heat mitigation strategies, sustainable water management, and robust public health systems to cope with such extreme conditions.

In conclusion, the unprecedented temperatures in Delhi serve as a wake-up call for both authorities and citizens. The combined effects of the heatwave and water scarcity demand immediate attention and coordinated efforts to mitigate the impact and ensure the well-being of the population. As the city grapples with these challenges, the resilience and cooperation of its residents will be key to overcoming this crisis.

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