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Heatwave alert: Temperature in Delhi soars to 50°C as humidity intensifies sweltering summer

Delhi experienced discomfort despite a modest reduction in temperature due to humid easterly breezes. There was a 50°C heat index. Not expecting relief anytime soon. An orange notice was sent out.

Written by  Annesha Barua -- May 24th 2024 08:46 AM
Heatwave alert: Temperature in Delhi soars to 50°C as humidity intensifies sweltering summer

Heatwave alert: Temperature in Delhi soars to 50°C as humidity intensifies sweltering summer

PTC News Desk: Despite a 2.4-degree decrease in the maximum temperature on Thursday, heavy easterly winds brought in humidity that made the day noticeably uncomfortable in the Capital. Weather forecasters anticipate little respite for the time being.

The heat index (HI), or "real feel," was 50 degrees Celsius (°C), down 5.4 degrees from Wednesday's 55.4°C, but still above the 50-degree threshold for the second day in a row due to a range of humidity levels between 39% and 62%. Tuesday's mercury high, which gauges air temperature, was 42.4°C, although it was 45°C. The high temperature on Thursday was 41°C, which was lower than Wednesday's 43.4°C.

Heat and humidity together are more harmful to human health since sweating allows people to cool down. One approach to measure this is the heat index, which applies to conditions measured in the shade and accounts for both relative humidity and ambient temperature.

Wet-bulb temperature is another metric that represents outside conditions; if this number rises above 32°C, there is a significant risk to one's health.

With a peak temperature of 41°C and an average humidity of 50%, the wet bulb temperature on Thursday would have been very nearly 31.8°C.

The easterlies, which bring moisture from the Bay of Bengal, are predicted to last till Saturday afternoon before changing into dry westerly winds from Rajasthan, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD). The organization added that this could result in the return of heatwave conditions to some areas of Delhi and issued a "orange alert" for Saturday, the day of voting, and the two days that follow.

IMD data from May 13 indicated that the HI was below 50°C every day prior to Wednesday. On May 16, during the period of "dry heat," when westerlies predominated, the highest HI recorded was 46°C. That day's high was 42.5°C.

"On Tuesday, easterly winds started to affect Delhi, and on Wednesday, when the mercury surpassed 55°C, they became stronger. The highest temperature in Delhi dropped on Thursday due to strong winds, but the amount of moisture in the air kept the HI high, according to IMD scientist Kuldeep Srivastava.

According to Srivastava, the maximum temperature in Delhi is predicted to reach 44°C on Saturday and 45°C on Sunday. The greatest recorded temperature at Safdarjung, which serves as a weather gauge for Delhi, was 44.4°C on May 19. On the same day, it reached 47.8°C at other sites. With a maximum temperature of 42.4°C on Thursday, Najafgarh is Delhi's hottest spot once more.

According to an IMD official, the formula used to calculate HI was created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is utilized globally.

Because the body cannot perspire during a humid heat wave, experts claim that humid heat is more harmful than dry heat and raises HI values.

"In dry heat conditions, where the relative humidity is typically 25% or lower, perspiration occurs on the body and then evaporates. There's a cooling impact from this. The body finds it more difficult to cool itself when humidity levels are high—above 50%, for example—because the air becomes saturated and sweating becomes more difficult. Vice president of Skymet meteorology Mahesh Palawat noted that high humidity levels are also typical in July and August, when the monsoon season arrives in the city.

Delhi recorded a minimum temperature of 30.6°C, four degrees higher than average. According to IMD, nights should stay warm, with a low of maybe 31°C till Sunday.

- With inputs from agencies

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