Nearly the hottest place on Earth, India swelters under intense heat wave
New Delhi flirted with its all-time highest April temperature on Thursday as people and animals tried to cope with the abnormally intense and prolonged heat wave.
Zachary Rosenthal, AccuWeather staff writer
Published Apr. 28, 2022 5:19 PM BST
Updated Apr. 29, 2022 3:36 PM BST
Extreme heat parched large sections of India on Thursday, April 28. The extreme heat follows the hottest March since India began keeping records 122 years ago.
While parts of the eastern United States are dealing with lower-than-normal temperatures, thousands of miles away, India is baking under a new round of heat, and residents of the Indian subcontinent can expect the brutally warm air to linger.
It isn’t unusual for parts of India and Pakistan to have some cities among the top 10 hottest places in the world, but what is unusual is how they are completely dominating the list. Looking at 24-hour daily highs, all 10 of the hottest locations were found in India and Pakistan, and the hottest temperature recorded on Earth at official weather stations Thursday was a toasty 116.6 degrees Fahrenheit (47 Celsius) in Jacobabad, Pakistan.
With temperatures consistently 5 to 10 F above normal this April in Indian cities like New Delhi, home to more than 30 million people, some Indians are blaming climate change for the scorching temperatures.
On Thursday, New Delhi nearly ranked among the world’s top 10 when it topped out at 109 degrees (43 C), about 5 degrees shy of the all-time record high temperature for April there, which is 114.1 F (45.6 C) measured on April 30, 2019, according to AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist and Lead International Forecaster Jason Nicholls. The city matched the 109-degree F mark again on Friday, while Banda, India hit 117.3 F (47.4 C).
In contrast, Death Valley, California, famous for its reputation as one of the hottest places on Earth, hit a high temperature of 99 on Wednesday.
“We are getting a return gift from nature in the form of heat. Us humans have worsened our environment. Owing to our increased use of air-conditioners and cars, I feel that the heat will keep rising,” Parul Bakshi, a resident of Chennai, India, told Reuters. “We will see the climate changing rapidly. This is also why I think that it is this hot.”
NASA noted that 10 major cities were exposed to high temperatures above 110.8 F (43.8 C) on Wednesday.
NASA Earth Observatory image showing high temperatures on April 27, 2022 by Joshua Stevens, using GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office.
Meteorologists from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) found that March 2022 was the hottest March for India as a whole since 1901, with average highs jumping to a staggering 3.35 degrees Fahrenheit (1.86 degrees Celsius) above the climatological average. A scientist on Twitter noted that the last six weeks in New Delhi have averaged more than 7.5 F (4 C) above normal, matching the worst heat wave on record from 2010.
India is no stranger to exceptional heat. Throughout the country, there are street vendors in major cities selling special fruit that supposedly helps protect people from the potentially damaging effects of above-normal temperatures.
“Instead of the regular synthetic fruits, you know, the ready-made fruit juice which is harm[ful] to the health, these are good for your health as well and these are the only way that you can manage the heat, especially the eye irritation, heartburn. Those things can be fixed if you have regularly this,” Muttharamalingam Subhramaniam a resident of Chennai, India, told Reuters.
A man bathes at a public water tap during a hot summer afternoon in Lucknow in the central Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, Thursday, April 28, 2022. Severe heat wave conditions are sweeping north and western parts of India with maximum temperatures soaring to 110 degrees or higher in some areas. (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
At India’s zoos, the animals are also finding ways to cool off. Officials at a zoo in India’s Bihar state have installed new cooling equipment, including sprinklers and fans, to help animals like birds, ostriches and white tigers cool off, according to a report from Reuters.
“We have installed sprinklers to spray water on all the birds and to help maintain the temperature of the place,” a zoo employee told Reuters. “We also provide them all the chemicals that they need for developing their immunity. Similarly, fans, coolers and exhausts have been installed in the animals’ areas too.”
The heat has also increased the demand for power in the country, which has resulted in electricity shortages in some regions. At least three Indian states have imposed power cuts on industrial activity, according to Reuters, something which comes at the same time that hospitals are seeing increased demand from patients suffering from heatstroke.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also warned the country that the heat wave, which has come earlier than many of India’s worst, is increasing the fire danger in the country. Burns at landfills also contribute to poor air quality, especially in urban areas like New Delhi, where the air quality much of this week has been at dangerous levels.
Air quality across India on April 29, 2022. As shown in this image, northern India is experiencing unhealthy (red shading) to dangerous (purple shading) air quality. (AccuWeather)
“We are seeing increasing incidents of fires in various places — in jungles, important buildings and in hospitals — in the past few days,” Modi said, according to Reuters.
Unfortunately for animals and people in India, AccuWeather forecasters are not expecting much relief from the heat anytime soon, perhaps not until the monsoon season begins in June.
“A brief change in the weather pattern can bring some relief around next Tuesday or next Wednesday,” said Nicholls. “Any relief looks to be brief as heat is expected to return for the first full weekend of May.”
And a similarly hot forecast is in store over in Jacobabad which was Thursday’s global hotspot. The 116 reading may just be the “coolest” high temperature notched there until next Tuesday as hazy sunshine is expected to send the mercury soaring past the 120-degree mark on multiple days, according to the AccuWeather forecast.
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