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Delhi Summer: After Warmest March in 11 Years, Capital Braces for Extreme Heat Till June | The Weather Channel – Articles from The Weather Channel | – The Weather Channel

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A couple of years ago, in June 2019, mercury levels in Delhi rose to a record high of 48°C as dry summer heat made it impossible for residents to step out in the afternoon hours. Earlier this week, on March 29, the daytime temperature in Delhi breached the 40°C-mark—unprecedented for the month of March. If the forecasts hold true, the capital city could very well breach the record heat of 2019 in the upcoming summer months from April to June.
As per the latest seasonal outlook from the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Delhi, along with Haryana and Chandigarh, could witness 0.62°C warmer-than-normal temperatures from April to June. This sweltering comes right after the capital witnessed unprecedented warming in both February and March when the daytime temperatures consistently remained more than 3.5°C above normal.
In March, Delhi witnessed as many as 11 days of appreciably above-normal temperatures (3.1-5°C) and 8 days of markedly above-normal temperatures (more than 5°C). Monday’s maximum temperature of 40.1°C was the second-highest temperature on record for March in Delhi, just below the all-time high of 40.6°C recorded in 1945. Delhi’s mean maximum temperature for March was 33.1°C—3.5°C more than normal. This is the warmest March in terms of daytime temperatures since the year 2010, as per the IMD records.
“The intense heat waves during March are primarily tied to the movement of the mid-latitude Rossby waves that bring anticyclones and warm air. This happens due to Equatorial warming that allows the intrusion of warm air. When an anticyclone is strong, it brings intense heat waves. This is not new! For the past 4-5 years, we have been seeing above-normal temperatures during the months of March/April/May,” explains Dr Sridhar Balasubramanian, Associate Professor at IIT Bombay and an adjunct faculty at the institute’s IDP Climate Studies Centre.
The record high temperature in March comes after the national capital witnessed the second warmest February on record this year. The warming trend is likely to continue till June as Delhi NCR, along with Haryana and Chandigarh, could experience the highest deviation from average across India, as per IMD’s seasonal outlook. The maximum temperatures are 70 to 100% likely to climb 0.62°C higher than the 15-year average from 2003 to 2018.
What has been more concerning is the unprecedented warming despite the prevailing La Niña—which has a cooling effect on global temperatures—over the Pacific Ocean. La Niña is the cooling phase of a periodic cycle of changes in sea-surface temperatures and wind patterns over the Pacific Ocean, while El Niño is often associated with warmer than normal temperatures across the globe.
“Now almost every year and every month are warmer than the earlier ones. 2020 was one of the warmest years despite having a La Niña with cool waters in the eastern Pacific. This was the same for the last two months when La Nina was fading from the Pacific. La Niñas typically have a cooling effect on global temperatures, but this is now offset by global warming due to greenhouse gas emissions. As a result, La Niña years now are warmer than years with El Niño events of the past,” explains Dr Roxy Mathew Koll, a climate scientist at the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune.
As of April 1, the maximum temperature in Delhi has dropped to 34°C, which is still marginally above-normal for this time of the year. Over the next five days, daytime temperatures are expected to rise further up to 38°C, along with partly cloudy skies from Sunday onwards. The possibility of thunderstorm and lightning, along with strong surface winds, persists over the next week on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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