India’s pre-monsoon heat reaches dangerous levels

An early and severe heatwave has set in across South Asia in the run-up to this year’s summer rains.

India’s pre-monsoon heat reaches dangerous levels
The pre-monsoon heat lasts from March to July in eastern India with temperatures approaching the upper 40Cs [Piyal Adhikary/EPA]

India’s pre-monsoon heat has intensified, forcing thousands of people to stay indoors as they struggled to avoid blistering conditions. 

Much of the country was reeling as temperatures continued to rise. Daytime highs were running up to 7C above the seasonal average.

The Indian Meteorological Department advised that heatwave conditions were prevailing at a few places over Bihar and Jharkhand. The heatwave was described as severe over Gangetic West Bengal and coastal Odisha.

Bankura in Gangetic West Bengal recorded a maximum temperature of 45.2C on Monday. It was even hotter in the plains of Odisha where Bhubaneshwar had a high of 45.8C.

Conditions were almost as severe across southern India. Temperatures were comfortably hovering between 41C and 43C. Some 66 people have died from sunstroke this year.

These temperatures will continue to rise until the summer rains arrive on the southwesterly monsoon, but those rains are not expected to arrive until around June 1.

Separately, the far north of the country was still dealing with winter. Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir received a late fall of heavy snow. Some parts reported more than 10cm of snow in places.

Several roads were closed for a time and power supplies were badly disrupted. The rain and snow were expected to fade quickly over the next few days.

It will take much longer for the heat to ease across the rest of the country.

With additional reporting by Everton Fox

Source: Reuters