52°C+ at Mungeshpur: Delhi hits record in sizzling summer | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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52°C+ at Mungeshpur: Delhi hits record in sizzling summer

By, New Delhi
May 30, 2024 04:36 AM IST

Other parts of Delhi did not do much better, with the maximum temperature soaring past 50°C in Janakpuri and to 46.8°C at the Safdarjung station

The relentless summer scorched Delhi’s earth on Wednesday, pushing the temperature to a record 52.3°C at 3.15pm in Mungeshpur, in the city’s northwestern fringes, the highest ever clocked anywhere in India, as the unprecedented, unforgiving heat continued to grip the Capital.

A toll booth worker (left) directing traffic takes shade under an umbrella on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)
A toll booth worker (left) directing traffic takes shade under an umbrella on a hot summer afternoon in New Delhi on Wednesday. (AFP)

Other parts of Delhi did not do much better, with the maximum temperature soaring past 50°C in Janakpuri and to 46.8°C at the Safdarjung station, taken as Delhi’s official reading, as the Capital baked on its hottest day in nearly 80 years and its second hottest day ever.

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The only time Delhi has lived through a hotter day, according to readings at Safdarjung, was May 29, 1944, when the maximum temperature touched 47.2°C. Wednesday’s maximum narrowly edged out the previous second-highest temperature: 46.5°C on May 29, 1998.

India’s earlier heat record, meanwhile, is relatively more recent, when Phalodi in Rajasthan hit 51°C on May 19, 2016.

To be sure, IMD in its evening bulletin said the maximum at Mungeshpur was 52.9°C, instead of 52.3°C, even as it later backtracked on its own reading suggesting it could be due to “error” or “local factors”.

In a post on X on Wednesday evening, Union earth sciences minister Kiren Rijiju said such a reading in Delhi was “very unlikely”.

“It is not official yet. Temperature of 52.3°C in Delhi is very unlikely. Our senior officials in IMD have been asked to verify the news report. The official position will be stated soon,” he said.

HT, however, is relying on IMD’s weather readings updated at 15-minute intervals on its website in all the automated live stations and on the station pages on its website for the manual stations.

The weather turned dramatically in the evening, when a brief spell of rain and a dust storm brought temporary relief. IMD, meanwhile, predicted that temperatures over the next few days may be curtailed by a western disturbance that may also bring the city showers.

Read Here: Heatwave to reduce gradually over Northwest, Central India from May 30

The maximum was 13 degrees above normal in Mungeshpur and six above normal in Safdarjung. Average readings for Janakpuri are unavailable.

And though Munghespur’s temperatures were likely accentuated by a phenomenon known as the “urban heat island effect” (when dense concrete structures absorb and magnify the heat), experts stressed that Delhi was living through an unusually hot summer, with hot westerly winds feeding a weeks-long dry spell.

The Capital has been suffocated by a heatwave for five straight days now.

Indeed, a heatwave has smothered vast swathes of northern India for days, with temperatures well beyond normal and even above 50°C in some places.

At play, said experts, is the “El Nino” weather phenomenon, which set in last year and is characterised by a warming of waters in the Pacific Ocean. In India, this leads to warmer summers and a drier monsoon. To be sure, the El Nino has started to wane, with IMD forecasting an “above normal” monsoon this year.

IMD scientist Kuldeep Srivastava said: “Westerly winds were bringing in heat and dust from Rajasthan. At the same time, we had clear skies. A change in wind direction was seen in the second half of Wednesday, bringing in some moisture and local drizzle in parts of Delhi.”

Vishwas Chitale, senior programme lead, Council on Energy, Environment and Water (CEEW) said recent studies show Indian cities were warming rapidly due to compounding factors like the climate crisis and urbanisation.

“The severe heatwave conditions observed in cities like Delhi testify to this fact. The impacts we are witnessing are multifaceted, which include water scarcity and record-breaking power demand,” he said.

Most of Delhi sweltered in temperatures above 47°C, with Safdarjung one of the few stations where the mercury crept below this mark. Janakpuri was the city’s second-hottest spot on Wednesday, with a maximum of 50.1°C, followed by Najafgarh (49.1°C). Pusa (49°C), Pitampura (48.9°C), Jafarpur (48.7°C), Narela (48.4°C), Ridge (47.3°C) and Palam (47°C).

Rajghat was the city’s coolest spot, with a maximum temperature of 45.2°C.

IMD declares a heatwave in the plains if the maximum is 40°C or higher, while also being 4.5°C or more above normal. A “severe heatwave” is declared if it is 6.5°C or more above normal. The humidity made the day feel much worse than the maximum temperature let on, with Safdarjung clocking a heat index of 59°C at Safdarjung.

Experts pointed out that the location and calibration of weather stations are crucial for accurate readings. The weather stations in Mungeshpur, Najafgarh, Mayur Vihar, Sports Complex, Jafarpur and Pitampura are automatic monitors, where data is automatically recorded and transmitted through servers by pre-calibrated weather instruments. Delhi has 15 automatic stations.

However, at the Safdarjung, Palam and Ridge, Ayanagar and the Lodhi Road stations, the recordings are logged manually, using mercury thermometers. The manual readings are regarded as more accurate.

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