The Met department’s forecast of extreme, and extended, heat wave-like conditions this summer seems to be coming true already. The temperature in the last three days has been significantly higher than normal in most parts of the country but especially so in north, west and central India.
In fact, the maximum and minimum temperatures have been between five to six degree celsius higher than normal in parts of western Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, eastern Rajasthan and some parts of Madhya Pradesh. The minimum temperature is more than 5 degree normal in these places. Delhi has already recorded a 40 degree-plus day on Sunday.
Almost the entire country, barring the north-east, is now experiencing maximum day temperatures of above 32 degree celsius. “Heat wave conditions prevailed at a few places over Madhya Pradesh and at isolated places over East Rajasthan and Delhi NCR,” the Met department said on Monday.
Though a combination of local and regional factors might be responsible for the current high temperatures, the heat is also being blamed on the El Nino phenomenon that was one of the prime reasons for low rainfall in the last two monsoon seasons.
The current prevailing El Nino, an unusual warming of the sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean, has been one of the strongest and longest ever. It is expected to weaken in the next few weeks, triggering hopes for this year’s monsoon season, but meanwhile, it is said to be causing heat-wave conditions over India. As the Met department said in its heat forecast last week, the summer following an El Nino year usually has abnormally high temperatures, and heat wave conditions are not unusual.
The years 1973, 1995, 1998, 2003, 2010 were all preceded by El Nino years, and had experienced very high temperatures, several degrees higher than normal. Moderate to severe heat wave conditions had prevailed in those years in most parts of the country. The Met department has not specified how long this heat wave condition would continue. The forecast for monsoon rains is still a few weeks away but it is being expected that good rainfall might happen only later in the monsoon season, and not at its beginning.