India witnessed 536 heatwave days this summer, the highest in 14 years, the India Meteorological Department said on Monday, reported PTI.

The weather agency calculates the total heatwave days in the country as a culmination of such weather conditions in all 36 meteorological sub-divisions. For instance, a heatwave day, when experienced in five sub-divisions, is counted as five heatwave days.

In a virtual press conference on Monday, Mrutyunjay Mohapatra, the India Meteorological Department’s director general, said that the country recorded 181 heatwave days in June, the highest after 177 days registered in 2010.

He said the mean temperature for June in northwest India was 31.73 degrees Celsius. This is 1.65 degrees Celsius above normal and the highest since 1901.

The monthly average maximum temperature in the northwest was 1.96 degrees Celsius above normal, settling at 38.02 degrees Celsius, said Mohapatra, adding that the monthly average minimum temperature was 25.44 degrees Celsius, 1.35 degrees Celsius above normal.

From April to June, around 40% of the country experienced double the number of heatwave days than usual.

Since May 13, Delhi recorded 40 consecutive days of temperatures above 40 degrees Celsius.

Due to this, the country recorded 40,000 suspected cases of heatstroke and over 100 heat-related deaths during one of its hottest and longest heatwaves, reported PTI.

The India Meteorological Department considers declaring a heatwave in the plains if the maximum temperature crosses 40 degrees Celsius, or is at least 4.5 degrees above normal. In the hilly regions, the agency considers declaring a heatwave if the maximum temperature crosses 30 degrees Celsius, or is at least 4.5 degrees above normal.

A heatwave is declared if these criteria are met in at least two stations in a meteorological sub-division for at least two consecutive days.

Rainfall deficit

According to Mohapatra, the northeastern region recorded a 33% rainfall deficit in June, which was due to the slow-paced advancement of monsoons over the northern and eastern parts of the country due to a lack of weather systems.

“Only one low-pressure area developed towards the end of June,” said Mohapatra. “Normally, we get three low-pressure systems. The Madden-Julian Oscillation was not favourable and therefore, we could not get enhanced convection and low-pressure systems.”

The absence of western disturbances, mainly between June 10 and June 19, also contributed to the longer dry spell and heatwave over northwest and central India.

The month of June only saw three western disturbances, as against a normal of four to five, Mohapatra said.

Monsoon covers entire country

On Tuesday, the India Meteorological Department said the southwest monsoon has further advanced into the remaining parts of Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab.

“Thus, it has covered the entire country on 2nd July 2024, against the normal date of 08th July [six days before the normal date of covering the entire India],” said the weather agency in a press release.

On Monday, the weather agency had predicted an “above normal” rainfall for July over most parts of the country.

The rainfall is likely going to be greater than 106% of the usual 28 cm rainfall for July, which is expected to benefit agriculture and water resources, it said.

It, however, added that above-normal rainfall can also bring potential risks such as flooding, landslides, surface transport disruptions, public health challenges, and ecosystem damage.

Also read: