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Delhi’s month-long battle with heatwaves continues as heat index soars past 50°C; monsoon nowhere in sight

Delhi’s month-long battle with heatwaves continues as heat index soars past 50°C; monsoon nowhere in sight
You know things have gone out of hand when the insides of your home are boiling and stepping outside comes with the hefty risk of collapsing from a heatstroke.

As of today, deadly heatwaves have retained their unforgiving grip on Delhi for nearly 10 days and temperatures have remained above 40°C for at least 36 days now. The daytime temperatures ranged between 45°C and 46.6°C — at least 6-8 notches above normal — in various parts of the national capital yesterday. The heat index, or the “feels like” temperature was, however, much higher at 50°C.

These sweltering conditions ensured that Delhi remained on a red warning (meaning ‘take action’) on Monday. Residents were advised to stay in as much as possible due to the “extremely high likelihood of heat strokes”. The scorching temperatures, made worse by the lack of rain, are a double whammy for the area as it's not just the people that are suffering. The crops are at risk of failing too.
Delhi braces for more heatwaves
Amid residents anticipating some much-needed relief from the scorching weather, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has forecast more heatwaves in the national capital.

As per the weather department, heatwave to severe heatwave conditions are likely in Delhi and its neighbouring regions on Tuesday (June 18), with its effects likely to linger for the next couple days. The heat index could remain in the range of 49-51°C today.

A heatwave is recorded when daytime temperatures are above 40°C and the departure is above 4.5 notches. For severe heatwaves, the maximum temperature must exceed the 45°C mark or the departure must be above 6.5 notches.

Given the forecasts, IMD has issued a red warning over Delhi-NCR for today as well. With conditions likely to gradually abate after tomorrow, an orange alert has been issued for tomorrow, followed by a yellow watch. Individuals are strongly advised to stay indoors and stay hydrated.
What are the reasons for Delhi’s persistent heatwaves?
Delhi's brutal heatwave is a result of several factors working together. Scorching westerly winds blowing from neighbouring Rajasthan and Haryana are keeping temperatures high throughout the day. But the bad news doesn't stop there — these hot winds persist even at night.

A pesky western disturbance is throwing Delhi curveballs with partly cloudy skies. While you might think clouds bring relief, in this case, they're acting like a blanket, preventing the night-time temperatures from dropping significantly. This combination of hot winds and stubborn clouds is leading to what's called a "warm night," offering no escape from the heat even after sunset. Because nights aren't getting much cooler, the ground retains more heat. This "pre-heated" ground then makes the following days even hotter – a vicious cycle!
When will Delhi’s heatwave woes end?
Delhiites have basically pinned all their hopes on the arrival of the monsoon, which typically brings some relief. However, the monsoon's progress seems to have stalled after reaching South India, leaving North India, including Delhi, parched and desperate for rain.

Fortunately, there's a slight chance of relief on the horizon. A new western disturbance is expected to approach northwest India later this week, potentially bringing some much-needed rain to Delhi. Temperatures are expected to start dropping by around 2 notches starting tomorrow. But complete relief can only be expected after the monsoon rains enter the region — the normal date being between June 25-30.