The capital may have broken rainfall records in January and February this year, but since March 1, Delhi has not experienced significant downpours, one of the factors that experts say was at the origin of the early and intense heat wave across the city.
This first month of the year was Delhi’s wettest January in 121 years, and February was the city’s wettest in eight years. But between March 1 and May 15, Delhi recorded just 1.7mm of rain, a 95.5% deficit from the normal rainfall of 37.5mm.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said this lack of rain is the main catalyst for the intense and prolonged heat wave in the region, with Delhi in particular not registering any significant disturbance from the west at this time either.
“We have seen western disturbances in March, April and May, but none strong enough to bring substantial rainfall. Most brought either cloudy skies or stronger winds, which can push the maximum temperature by a degree or two, but cannot bring relief,” said IMD scientist RK Jenamani.
During this period, Delhi only recorded two days of rain – on April 21, when it received a measly 0.3mm of rain and on May 4, when it received 1.4mm of rain .
In March, Delhi recorded no rain for the whole month – the first time this has happened since March 2018. This led the capital to record the fourth highest average maximum temperature for the month (32.9 °C) between 1951 and 2022 and the second highest average minimum (17.6°C) for the same period. Delhi also recorded its second hottest March day on March 30, when the high hit 39.6C, behind only 2021, when the mercury hit 40.1C degrees during the month.
With no rain, other heat records dropped in April, with Delhi recording an average maximum temperature of 40.2 degrees, making it the second hottest April between 1951 and 2022. It n was warmer than 2010 (40.4) degrees.
While the average rainfall for March is 15.9 mm, it is 12.2 mm for April. For May, it is 19.7mm, with 9.4mm the normal mark until May 15. “During the first 10 days of May, the maximum temperature remained near normal and Delhi also experienced light rainfall and isolated hail activity. However, the heatwave conditions have returned as there are no strong western disturbances in the area,” said an official met.
While a westerly disturbance is expected from Monday, it will be weak again and should not bring rain. Another disturbance from the west is forecast for May 21, but it is also unlikely to be accompanied by showers. “The second western disturbance is likely to bring gusty winds and dust storms. The high will drop a few degrees but will remain above 40C,” a Met official said.