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Heatwave sweeping across India and intensifying further in northwest part of the country has pushed temperatures beyond 45 degrees Celsius in many parts, the mercury within kissing distance of 50 C in Sri Ganganagar in Rajasthan.

In the national capital, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued the highest “red-colour” warning as Delhi sweltered under the hottest day of the season, with the mercury rising to 47 degrees Celsius in some areas yesterday (Friday, May 31). The maximum temperature was 44.8 at Safdarjung observatory, which is considered the official recording for the city. The weather stations at Ayanagar and Palam recorded 46 and 46.2 degrees Celsius respectively. Private agency Skymet Weather showed the maximum temperature touched the 47-degree Celsius mark in the diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri.

The minimum temperature on Friday was recorded at 28.4 degrees Celsius.

The IMD said present conditions could create a very high likelihood of developing heat-related illnesses and heat strokes in people of all ages.

Not just Delhi, the northern part of India is draped in similar conditions. Heat wave conditions are also expected in parts of west Madhya Pradesh, Telangana, Marathwada and in isolated pockets of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, west Uttar Pradesh and east Rajasthan.

Temperatures soared to the season’s highest in states like Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan, where the temperature neared 50 degrees Celsius in Sri Ganganagar.

In Sri Ganganagar, the maximum temperature broke the 75-year record for the month of May and touched 49.6 degrees Celsius. In Churu in the desert state, the mercury hovered around 48.5 degrees Celsius followed by Bikaner (46.6C).

It was the warmest day of the season in Himachal Pradesh, IMD said. The temperature in the state’s Una district touched 44.7 degrees Celsius. Shimla Met centre director Manmohan Singh told PTI, “We consider the three months – March, April and May – as summer season and May 31 has been recorded as the warmest day in the hill state.”

Forest officials in Gujarat said 14 turtles were found dead in a dried-up pond in Kutch district.

The heatwave will persist until June 2, when easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal will reach Delhi via Uttar Pradesh, bringing dust storm and thunderstorm, IMD said.

IMD said the monsoon is expected to remain below normal in north and south India. The annual weather pattern is likely to hit Kerala coast on June 6, five days after its usual onset date. A below average monsoon will exacerbate the drought-like situation in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.

Heatwaves are set to become stronger, more frequent and last longer. Long term data gathered from the IMD’s 103 weather gathering stations show that there has been a dramatic increase in temperatures between 1961 and 2018, say reports. Not only has the temperature risen in the range of 0.8 degree C, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of hot days in India.

The summer of 2018 was the sixth hottest summer since 1901 according to a reply given by the Minister of Environment Harsh Vardhan in the Lok Sabha on 6 February 2019.

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