As loo winds swept through Bhubaneswar sending mercury soaring to 42.2 degree Celsius on Monday and over 40 degree in a few Odisha districts like Bolangir and Angul, it was time for people in the Odisha capital to run for cover. The weather officials said it was the highest daytime temperature of March in last 64 years barring 2014!
Though officially it is spring, summer seems to have arrived in Bhubaneswar where the daytime temperature rose dramatically on Monday, at least 7 degrees above the normal temperature. The only time Bhubaneswar had very high temperature in March, was in 2014 when mercury touched 42 degrees Celsius.
What has raised temperatures in Odisha this month is the flow of hot winds from Nagpur via Telangana to Odisha in an anti-clockwise fashion.
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“Over the last 48 hours, hot wind from the western India aided by a clear sky and low humidity has been raising the temperature. With humidity is as low as 20 per cent against the normal 50 per cent, we are seeing extreme heat conditions,” said Dr Sarat Chandra Sahu, Regional Director, Meteorological Centre, Bhubaneswar. Though a Norwester was expected due to a trough line formed over sub-Himalayan West Bengal and stretching up to north Odisha, it has eluded the state so far.
Sahu said with the average humidity level down, the temperatures will rise further for the next 3-4 days at least. Last year, the rising daytime temperature led to 28 sunstroke deaths in the state.
As per the evening Met release, apart from Bhubaneswar, temperature remained at 40 degrees and above in Angul (40.1), Balangir (40) and Titlagarh (40.5). Though the Met department officials don’t rule out Bhubaneswar crossing 46.7 degree Celsius, the highest-ever temperature in the city, the state government officials don’t foresee a large number of sunstroke deaths due to several precautionary measures adopted after 1998. The last time Odisha witnessed a high number of heat wave deaths was in 1998 when over 2,000 people died of sunstroke, with 1,500 of them from coastal Odisha alone, a region known for its moderate temperature.
Officials said that despite similar heat wave conditions last year, the number of deaths have gone down due to shutting down of schools and colleges when the temperature is high. The state government has also banned work after 11 am which involves hard labour. The public has been advised to avoid exposure to the direct sun and wind, particularly during peak hours.
For people in Bhubaneswar who made a beeline to buy air conditioners last year, the summer of 2016 is already looking ominous.