Temperatures cross 40-degree mark in parts of Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan

PTI, Mar 27, 2024, 7:07 PM IST

Temperatures crossed the 40-degree-Celcius mark in parts of Karnataka, Gujarat and Rajasthan on Wednesday, with the India Meteorological Department (IMD) warning of heatwave conditions over these places for the next two days.

The mercury touched 41.6 degrees Celsius in Bhuj, 41.1 degrees Celsius in Rajkot, 41.5 degrees Celsius in Akola and 41.4 degrees Celsius in Washim.

An IMD official said the maximum temperatures were two to three notches above normal over these regions on Wednesday but did not meet the criteria for heatwave conditions.

The threshold for a heatwave is met when the maximum temperature of a station reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius in the plains, 37 degrees Celsius in coastal areas and 30 degrees Celsius in hilly regions, with a departure of at least four-and-a-half notches from normal.

In a statement, the IMD said heatwave conditions are very likely in isolated pockets over North Interior Karnataka during March 27-29, Saurashtra and Kutch in Gujarat on March 27-28, and southwest Rajasthan on March 27.

It also said warm nights (above-normal minimum temperatures) are very likely to prevail in isolated pockets of Gujarat, Marathwada and Madhya Maharashtra during March 27-29.

Hot and humid weather is predicted over Konkan and Goa on March 27-28 and over Rayalaseema, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Karaikal, Kerala and Mahe during March 27-31.

The IMD had earlier forecast that India would experience a warmer summer and more heatwave days this year, with El Nino conditions expected to continue at least until May.

From March to May, an above-normal number of heatwave days are likely over most parts of the country except the northeast, the western Himalayan region, the southwest peninsula and the west coast.

El Niño — periodic warming of the ocean surface in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean — occurs every two to seven years on an average and typically lasts nine to 12 months.

It is associated with increased rainfall in the Horn of Africa and southern United States, and unusually dry and warm conditions in Southeast Asia, Australia and southern Africa.

According to an analysis of the temperature data since 1970, the probability of the mercury soaring to 40 degrees Celsius in late March has multiplied due to climate change.

Researchers at the US-based Climate Central, an independent group of scientists, conducted the analysis to place India within the context of global-warming trends.

In the climate of the early 1970s, it would be exceedingly rare to encounter temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius in late March. Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Bihar had a more than 5 per cent chance of experiencing such temperatures.

However, the analysis revealed that the chance of reaching 40 degrees Celsius has since expanded to nine states — Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

Maharashtra now has the highest probability at 14 per cent.

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