The city of Phalodi, in India's Rajasthan, has set a new temperature record for the entire country hitting a scorching 51 °C (123.8 °F) on May 19, 2016.
According to the IMD, the previous high was 50.6 °C (123 °F), reached in 1956 in the city of Alwar, also in Rajasthan.
Weeks of strong sunshine and increasing heat are usual before the Indian monsoon season but this year's heat wave is all but normal. The country started experiencing abnormally hot weather as early as February and the heat already claimed lives of more than 340 people across the country. Almost 2 500 people died from heat-related incidents during a heatwave in 2015.
Christopher C. Burt, a weather historian at Weather Underground, posited that April 2016 heat wave was the most intense ever observed in Southeast Asia. In India, however, it lasted for weeks and the heat never truly dissipated, dragging on into May.
The Palam observatory in nation's capital, Delhi, recorded a whopping 46.4 °C (115.5 °F) on May 18, the highest of the season, but the situation there slightly improved thanks to Tropical Cyclone "Roanu," as colder south easterly winds replaced strong westerly winds. As a result, the temperatures in Delhi dropped for 2 – 3 °C.
Surface temperatures + wind at 09:00 UTC on May 19, 2016. Credit: Earth Nullschool
"Strong easterly winds are reaching up to East and North-Central India that are obstructing hot and dry westerly winds from affecting the North India region. However, once the weather system dissipates, westerly winds will again become active over Delhi-NCR and other parts of North India,” explained Mahesh Palawat, chief meteorologist, Skymet Weather. "The high temperature and high level of humidity are likely to bring dust storm and thunderstorm in few pockets of Delhi-NCR in next two days," he warned.
Severe heat wave alert for the next two days remains in the western states of Gujarat, Rajasthan and parts of the central Madhya Pradesh. That means the areas can expect temperatures as high as 47 °C (116.6 °F) or more.
Featured image: Surface temperatures + wind at 09:00 UTC on May 19, 2016. Credit: Earth Nullschool
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