W Power 2024

IMD report: Here comes the Sun

The IMD released a list of states, including Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, which will face the brunt of heatwaves lasting 10 to 12 days

Samidha Jain
Published: Apr 2, 2024 02:07:24 PM IST
Updated: Apr 2, 2024 02:55:00 PM IST

IMD report: Here comes the SunAs per IMD, heatwave spells lasting for two to eight days are most likely to affect Andhra Pradesh, Saurashtra-Kutch, Maharashtra and the western regions of Madhya Pradesh in April. Image: Vipin Kumar/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

The Government of India’s National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) describes a heatwave as “a period of abnormally high temperatures, more than the normal maximum temperature that occurs during the summer season in the North-Western parts of India”. Heatwaves generally occur from March to June, occasionally stretching into July. Rising daily peak temperatures and prolonged, intensified heatwaves are becoming more common worldwide as a result of climate change. India is also experiencing the effects of climate change, with a rise in the frequency and intensity of heatwaves each year. These heatwaves have a severe impact on human health, leading to a higher number of casualties.

As a forecast for this year, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) on Monday released a list of states that are likely to be worst impacted by heatwaves between April and June. The list includes Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Kerala, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh. As per IMD, heatwave spells lasting for two to eight days (against a normal of one to three days) are most likely to affect Andhra Pradesh, Saurashtra-Kutch, Maharashtra and the western regions of Madhya Pradesh in April.

On January 9, 2024, the European Union's (EU) Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) confirmed 2023 to be the world’s hottest year in the last 100,000 years. Scientists have highlighted that, since June 2023, every month has been the world's hottest on record compared with the corresponding month in previous years. The EU stated that, on an average, the Earth experienced a temperature increase of 1.48 °C in 2023 compared to the pre-industrial period of 1850-1900.

Also read: Too hot to handle: World hits record high temperature

The IMD report further indicated a significant likelihood of heatwave occurrences lasting between 10 and 20 days, compared to the usual four to eight days, over the next three months. Below average rainfall is anticipated in many areas due to pre-monsoon conditions, exacerbating aridity and water scarcity, thus contributing to heightened temperatures expected this summer. As per a report in the Indian Express, in February and March, southern peninsular India faced above-average temperatures. Some regions, such as Akola in Maharashtra and Phalodi in Rajasthan, recorded maximum temperatures of up to 42.6 °C over the past week.

Health impacts

Heatwaves, despite being one of the most perilous natural phenomena, often do not garner sufficient attention because their impacts on mortality and infrastructure damage may not be immediately apparent. As per the World Health Organization (WHO), between 1998 and 2017, over 1,66,000 individuals lost their lives as a result of heatwaves. Apart from heat cramps and heat strokes, according to WHO, heatwaves can cause severe dehydration, acute cerebrovascular accidents and contribute to thrombogenesis (blood clots).

Also read: India: Life in a heatwave(s)

Heatwaves can also place significant pressure on health care and emergency services, while also leading to an increase in the demand for water, energy, and transportation, potentially leading to power shortages or blackouts. Additionally, extreme heat can threaten food and livelihood security by causing crop and livestock losses.

Worst summers in India so far

As per a report by Firstpost, in India, the years 1998 and 2002 are considered to be the most deadly when it comes to heatwaves, when thousands of citizens lost their lives, with temperatures touching almost 50 °C in various parts of the country.

How to be safe?

The NDMA has listed the following measures that people can take to minimise the impact during heatwaves and to prevent serious ailments or death because of a heat stroke:

  • Avoid going out in the sun, especially between noon and 3 pm.
  • Drink sufficient water and as often as possible, even if not thirsty.
  • Wear lightweight, light-coloured, loose, and porous cotton clothes. Use protective goggles, umbrella/hat, shoes or slippers while going out in the sun.
  •  Avoid alcohol, tea, coffee and carbonated soft drinks, which dehydrates the body.
  • If you work outside, use a hat or an umbrella, and also use a damp cloth on your head, neck, face and limbs.
  • Keep animals in shade and give them plenty of water to drink.

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