Unusual Heatwave

Unusual Heatwave In North – India

The heatwave is a situation when the air is hot, the humidity level is high and the surface temperature is also high. This is a very undesirable condition for survival and also increases the rate of heat-related death.

Recently, North India is facing heatwaves for the last several days and New Delhi recorded its 18 years high temperature. A Heat Wave is a period of abnormally high temperatures or more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India. It occurs during the pre-monsoon between March and June, and in some rare cases even extend till July.

photo credit – earthobservatory.nasa.gov

How the heatwave is measured?
The heatwave is measured on the basis of temperature and the measurements are different for different regions, for plains it is 45°C or more, for coastal region it is 37°C or more and for hilly region it is 30°C or more.

Normally when the temperature rises 4.5°C to 6.4°C from normal temperature or if actual temperature crosses the mark of 45°C then it categorises this as a heatwave.  

And when the temperature rises above 6.4°C from normal temperature or if actual temperature crosses the mark of  47°C then it categorise this as a severe heatwave. 

What are the causes of the heatwave?

When a static high atmospheric pressure moves into an area for several days then it pulls the hot upper air towards the ground and further, it is compressed and increases the temperature and creates a high concentration of pressure. This high concentration of pressure last for several days because it prevents the other weather system and clouds to move into the area and all these phenomena together create heatwave. 

What is the present status of the heatwave and how long it will spell lasts?
Over the past several years, the heatwave has been an important problem for India,  whereby several cities in India have been severely affected. Recently ‘Think Tank’ said India is at 5th position in global climate risk index and due to COVID-19 and we can see more worst condition in the upcoming years. Generally, it spells last for minimum 4-5 days whereas a maximum of 7-10 days. For the past 4-5days, northeast states like Delhi, Rajsthan, Maharastra, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh experiencing severe heatwave condition.  The longest recorded heatwave till now was 18-31 May 2015. The current heatwave has started from 22 May and maybe last on 29 May.

Consequences of the heatwave.

  • Extreme heat can lead to dangerous even deadly consequences.
  • Severe heat can cause multiple organ failure or death too.
  • Heatwave is particularly more dengerous for children, the elderly and those with pre-existing morbidities.
  • Heatwaves also cause the death of cattle and wildlife.

What are the concerned challenges and what steps we should take to way forward it?


  •  As we all know there is no accurate information or scientific data related to heatwave are available till now to declare it a disaster at the national level. 
  • No relief packages are announced for heatwave under national or state disaster funds norms. 
  • The worst heatwave has been seen on 18-31 May 2015, When 2300 people died. Most of the deaths are recorded in Odisha, Punjab, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar.
  •  Many national programs are affected by heatwave such as –sports events, financial national or international meeting etc. But there is no strategy to reduce the increasing impact of the heatwave.

Here are some steps to a way forward to heatwaves:-

  • We have to make communities aware of the impact and precautionary steps of climate change.
  • We have to innovate an early warning system, which may predict high and extreme temperatures.
  • Providing health care facilities in a proper time interval.
  • Encouraging society to contribute to forestation and make more greeny areas.
  • Vulnerable areas and populations should be identified by using satellite or GIS and facilitate them so they can combat from the heatwave.

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