Visitors carry umbrellas to avoid the scorching heat at the Taj Mahal in Agra (PTI)
Last month was the hottest March in India in 122 years, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has said. The all-time average maximum temperature surpassed the record of March 2010, when the average monthly day temperature was recorded at 33.09 degree Celsius in comparison to 33.1 degree Celsius in March 2022.
The maximum temperature was above normal by 4.5 degrees over most parts of Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Punjab, and Rajasthan. According to IMD officials, lack of rain in March in north India has led to such intense heat. Normally, Delhi would receive 15.9 mm of rainfall in March on an average. Meanwhile, the IMD has warned of heatwave conditions in north India in April.
A heatwave is declared if the departure from the normal temperature is 4.5-6.4 degrees when the maximum reaches at least 40 degrees in the plains or 37 in coastal weather stations. A few other criteria can also lead to its declaration. The air temperature becomes fatal to the human body when exposed to a heatwave, according to the India Meteorological Department.
Meanwhile, the weather office said on Thursday that northwest and central India and parts of the northeast are expected to experience above-normal maximum temperatures in April, PTI reported. Normal to below normal maximum temperatures are likely in south peninsular India, many eastern parts of the country and the adjoining areas of the northeast.
India experienced two heatwaves in March, the first between March 11 and 21, when the maximum temperatures hovered five to 11 degrees above normal. The second heatwave started on March 26 and is continuing, with the highest day temperatures being five to nine degrees above normal. Except for coastal peninsular areas, almost all of India received deficit rainfall in March. Normal rainfall for March is 39.3 mm, which is the long period average (LPA) of rainfall between 1961 and 2010.
India is expected to receive normal rainfall of the LPA in April, the weather office said. It also said northwest and central India and some parts of northeast India were expected to receive below-normal rainfall in April. “Normal to above-normal rainfall is likely over many parts of the south Peninsula, western parts of central India and parts of northeast India,” the weather office said.