Indian heat wave hits 50 degrees Celsius — shaping up to be India’s hottest summer ever

Women in Amritsar, Punjab cover their faces are they walk down the street during India's 'severe' heat waveIANS

  • The heatwave in India has been classified as ‘severe’ by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
  • In Churu, temperatures were recorded at 50.8 degrees Celsius — the highest this season.
  • India’s apex weather agency also reports that the heat wave is likely to continue for another 2 days — so arm yourself with plenty of water and shade.
As the summer heat in India intensifies, temperatures in its hottest regions are soaring to heights of 50 degrees Celsius.

The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) reports that these high temperatures are going to continue bearing down on Northwestern and Central parts of the country for the next two days.


StateHeat wave severity
Jammu and KashmirHeat wave in isolated pockets
Himachal PradeshHeat wave in isolated pockets
PunjabHeat wave in isolated pockets
Haryana, Chandigarh, DelhiHeat wave in isolated pockets
Uttar PradeshHeat wave in isolated pockets
RajasthanSevere heat wave
VibardhaHeat wave, Severe heat wave in pockets
Saurashtra, KutchHeat wave in isolated pockets
MarathwadaHeat wave in isolated pockets
Source: Indian Meteorological Department

The last time temperatures got this high was in 2016, when Phalodi, a region in the Indian state of Rajasthan, recorded a temperature of 51 degrees Celsius. So far, Churu — another region in Rajasthan — has touched 50.8 degrees Celsius according to IMD’s data.

Map showing the regions affected by the heat wave with temperatures reaching 50.8 degrees Celsius in Churu, Rajasthan <em>(see box)</em>IMD

India’s apex weather agency also points out that maximum temperatures in most of the places affected by the heat wave are at least 5.1 degrees Celsius above what the department considers ‘normal’.

The effect of the heat wave is more telling on school children returning from school. They are braving it with proper umbrella protection and an ice cream bar to fight the scorching sunBCCL

The rest of India might not necessarily be facing a heat wave, but even their temperatures are more than 1.6 degrees Celsius above normal.

Killing off your cells


High temperatures cause the body’s core temperature to rise and everything inside starts to break down — for instance the gut will start to leak toxins into the body. If the core body temperature is anything beyond 40 degrees Celsius, then the result can be fatal as enzymes begin to get damaged.

Even when debilitating heatwave plagues traffic cops, basic amenities during duty hours continue to elude them. There are no arrangements for regular water supply, or immediate medical assistance if a cop were to collapse due to the scorching heat. The highly uncomfortable blue woollen berets, and leather belts make their fight against the heat even more difficultBCCL

Heat illness and heat stroke are highly likely outcomes if one ends up staying in the sun for too long. One casualty has already been reported in India due to the incredibility high temperatures.


It’s not just a heatwave — it’s a ‘severe’ heatwave

Anytime temperatures breach the 40 degrees Celsius mark, IMD classifies it as a ‘heat wave’ — at least in the plains. The temperature ceilings differ from terrain to terrain.

During a heat wave people are advised to stay hydrated, stay out of the sun and keep a check on people vulnerable to extended exposure to the sun — like infants and elders.

A girl covers her face with a scarf to protect herself from scorching heat during a hot afternoon, as mercury level increases in New Delhi BCCL

In the plains, going beyond the 47 degrees Celsius means that it’s not just a heat wave but a ‘severe’ heat wave. According to IMD’s assessment of impact, it’s not just vulnerable people that need to keep an eye out — but every single person regardless of age and health issues.

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