Delhi Residents Told To Stay Inside As City Hits Record-Breaking Temperatures
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Residents in Delhi have been told to stay inside as record-breaking temperatures hit India.
Temperatures in some parts of the national capital breached 49C as a heatwave continues to sweep through northern India, prompting officials to ask locals to take precautions.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said a weather station in Delhi’s Mungeshpur area recorded an unprecedented temperature of 49.2C, while another in the Najafgarh region recorded 49.1C.
Delhi braces for severe heatwave as maximum temperature breaches 49 degrees— ANI (@ANI) May 15, 2022
The maximum temperature was recorded at 49.2 degrees Celsius at Delhi's Mungeshpur. pic.twitter.com/Bd8v8JmHJL
The last record-setting temperature in Delhi was 47.2C, which was last recorded on 29 May 1944.
However, over the past two months, the area has been battling an intense heatwave after it was declared as early as mid-March - with April declared by the IMC as the hottest since it began keeping records.
The IMD has asked residents to avoid going outside and stay indoors as much as possible, saying in its 15 May bulletin: “Heatwave could lead to a moderate health concern for vulnerable people such as infants, elderly, people with chronic diseases."
It added that people in areas affected by the heatwave should avoid heat exposure, wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, cotton clothes, and cover their head with cloth, a hat, an umbrella or some other sort of covering.
Social media users have reported their difficulty in dealing with the heatwave, with young climate activist Licypriya Kangujam tweeting: “Today Delhi hit 49.2° Celsius (120.5° Fahrenheit). When I go out for shopping in the afternoon, I can't walk for even few seconds on the road due to extreme heatwave. Temperature are more high on the ground than the air. It's difficult to breath the air. Very dangerous for kids.”
Today Delhi hit 49.2° Celsius (120.5° Fahrenheit). When I go out for shopping in the afternoon, I can't walk for even few seconds on the road due to extreme heatwave. Temperature are more high on the ground than the air. It's difficult to breath the air. Very dangerous for kids.— Licypriya Kangujam (@LicypriyaK) May 15, 2022
According to Mahesh Palawat, Vice President of Meteorology and Climate Change at private weather forecasting agency Skymet, said May this year is set to be hotter compared to temperatures faced in the same month previously, following the pattern set by March and April.
Referring to a momentary respite from the heatwave on Monday 16 May, Palawat said: “After two days again, winds will come from the western direction (Rajasthan) and temperature will increase again.”
Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, said several atmospheric factors have led to the current heatwave in India, but that global warming has also exacerbated the situation.
"That's the root cause for the increase in heatwaves," Koll told BBC News, adding that further research is needed to link climate to change to other, less extreme fluctuations in weather.
D Sivananda Pai, director of the Institute for Climate Change Studies, said there are other challenges to bear in mind, including increasing population and the resulting strain on resources - which in turn leads to factors such as deforestation and higher levels of transport use.
Also speaking to the BBC, Pai said: "When you have more concrete roads and buildings, heat is trapped inside without being able to rise to the surface. This warms the air further.”
Koll said a ‘long-term vision’ is essential when planning for the future, adding: “There are places in India where the temperature itself may not be that high, but when combined with high humidity, life can be very difficult.”
Koll also said many children in rural areas attend schools in sheds with tin roofs, which would be ‘unbearable’ in such heat.
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