Severe heatwave returns to South Asia as temperatures pass 50 degrees Celsius.
Heatwave conditions have developed across the northern half of India. Temperatures are already breaching 40 degrees Celsius, making life increasingly difficult.
Residents in the holy city of Varanasi in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh struggled to carry on with their daily routines as the weekend temperature touched 42C.
Similar conditions prevail in Bhubaneswar in Odisha. Bhubaneswar has recorded temperatures above 40C for some time now.
The heatwave is due to a south-southwesterly flow which has pushed the hot dry air inland from Pakistan. Temperatures do tend to rise quickly ahead of the monsoon rains; this pre-monsoon heat has come early.
The ancient holy city of Nashik in Maharashtra, western India, has just had its hottest March in 13 years. According to the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) they are likely to have record-breaking heat in April too.
The month got off to a very warm start with temperatures approaching 39C. The April average is nearer 37C.
An IMD senior official, R B Mankor, said that he expects clear skies over the next few days and that will allow temperatures to surge.
He added that Nashik’s highest temperature in the month of April is 42.2C. However, looking at the trend this year, this figure is most likely to be surpassed by the end of April.
Many places are experiencing temperatures around 5 or 6 degrees above average. That does not bode well for the season ahead.
Six people have already died of heat stroke in Odisha last week alone. Weather officials have predicted this summer to be hotter and less rainy than previous years.
According to the IMD, more than 700 people died in the country last year, which was, globally, the hottest year on record.
The previous hottest year was 2015. The trend is alarming, with 16 of the 17 hottest years on record all occurring this century.