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5th Deadliest Heat Wave Ever Roasts India

Until last week, several states in India were experiencing what weather analysts called the fifth deadliest heat wave ever recorded. The severe heat wave conditions took the lives of more than 2,300 people.

India 2015 Heat Wave MapThe Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued warnings about extreme heat wave conditions on several days last month. The maximum temperatures in several parts of the country touched 49°C (120°F) mark. Prolonged dry spells made the conditions worse.

One would think that areas inland would face more severe heat wave conditions but even towns and cities near the coast were not spared the blistering heat. Several cities in Gujarat recorded maximum temperatures of around 45°C (113°F) for several consecutive days.

Regions away from the coast face even more extreme weather conditions. Southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana reported very high temperatures and dry conditions which led to a bulk of the 2,300 deaths in the country. The death toll is just shy of fatalities recorded in the 1998 heat wave in the country when 2,541 people lost their lives.

The heat wave conditions were in stark contrast to the untimely heavy rains during the spring season which led to loss of agricultural produce and led hundreds of farmers to commit suicide.

The heat wave conditions were made worse by the lack of rainfall. One would assume that the low-pressure conditions resulting from the extreme heat and dryness would attract moisture-laden clouds but that did not happen. There were no pre-monsoon showers either in May.

And while the IMD has now withdrawn heat wave warnings from all parts of India, the country is facing a new challenge of weak monsoon. Rains have already been delayed for some days now (monsoon usually strikes Indian mainland on 31 May — 1 June) and the possibility of a second consecutive drought year is being discussed in government circles in hushed tone.

Yet another reminder why we do what we do here on CleanTechnica.

Image Credit: NOAA

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Written By

Smiti works as a senior solar engineer at a reputed engineering and management consultancy. She has conducted due diligence of several solar PV projects in India and Southeast Asia. She has keen interest in renewable energy, green buildings, environmental sustainability, and biofuels. She currently resides in New Delhi, India.


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