Experiencing a heatwave

Source: By Sanjana Bhalerao: The Indian Express

A heatwave has gripped the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions of Maharashtra. This is the fourth heatwave in the last two months, Vidarbha was the hottest region in the country.

On the same day, the state’s highest maximum temperatures (in degrees Celsius) were recorded at Brahmapuri (44.7), followed by Akola (44.5), Chandrapur and Wardha (44.4 each), Gondiya (43.5), Amravati (43.2), Nagpur, Washim and Parbhani (43 each), Ahmednagar (42.3) and Solapur (41.4).

What is a heatwave?

A region is considered to be under the grip of a heatwave if the maximum temperature reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius or more in the plains and at least 30 degrees Celsius or more in hilly regions. When the maximum temperature departure ranges between 4.5 and 6 degrees, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) declares a heatwave. A severe heatwave is declared when the recorded maximum temperature of a locality departure from normal is over 6.4 degrees Celsius. Also, if an area records over 45 degrees and 47 degrees Celsius on any given day, then the IMD declares heatwave and severe heatwave conditions, respectively.

Maharashtra’s fourth heatwave in two months

March marks the beginning of the summer season and is considered a transition phase, where day temperatures gradually rise. The peak month for heatwaves over India is May, with temperatures starting to peak in the second half of April.

However, Maharashtra’s first two heatwave spells were recorded last month. March saw two long spells of a heatwave—March 11 to 19, and one of the longest spells from 27 March to 12 April. The third heatwave began on 17 April and lasted till 20 April.

While maximum temperatures above 45 degrees Celsius are recorded mainly over Rajasthan and the Vidarbha region in May, the latter recorded temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius starting in March, this season.

Lack of pre-monsoon showers

Except for the southern peninsula and northeast regions, the weather has remained dry across the rest of the country. Once, in the last week, parts of Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi reported light to moderate rainfall. The lack of pre-monsoon showers has also led to an increase in the overall maximum temperature. Maharashtra recorded 63 per cent deficient rainfall from 1 March to 26 April.

What’s the weather forecast for Maharashtra?

The IMD has issued a ‘yellow’ alert, warning of continuing heatwave conditions over Chandrapur, Wardha, Nagpur, Amravati, Akola, Jalgaon, Buldhana, Yavatmal, Ahmednagar and Nashik districts till 30 April. A gradual rise in maximum temperatures by 2-3 degrees Celcius is very likely over most parts of the state this week.

The IMD has said heatwave conditions are very likely to prevail in isolated pockets of Madhya Maharashtra, Marathwada and parts of Vidarbha during the next 3-4 days. Maximum temperatures will remain above normal to appreciably above normal during this period.