India just saw its hottest February in 146 years. The bad news is it is going to get worse

DailyBiteMar 01, 2023 | 12:45

India just saw its hottest February in 146 years. The bad news is it is going to get worse

The average maximum temperature in Delhi for the month of February was at 27.7 degrees Celsius, the third highest in the last 63 years. (Photo: Getty Images)

Last year India faced one of the worst heat waves ever as temperatures broke all records. And it seems like this year is not going to be any different. India reported the warmest February this year since 1877 with average maximum temperatures touching 29.54 degrees Celsius.

Heat waves are not new to India, and with the rapid increase in global warming which has badly affected the otherwise cold European countries, people had expected the situation to get worse.


But what they had not expected was this quick withdrawal of winters and the heat waves starting this early. Last year's March month was India's hottest in 122 years since 1901, and now in 2023, February month has broken all records.

Are summers starting in February now?

The monthly average maximum temperature In India for February was the highest since 1877, and the monthly average minimum temperature was the fifth highest during this February since 1901, said the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

The country also received 68% lower rainfall than normal in February and in many parts of India, the temperatures have been ranging between 35 to 39 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature remained at 4-9 degrees Celsius above normal in most parts.

The average maximum temperature in Delhi for the month of February this year was at 27.7 degrees Celsius, the third highest in the last 63 years, according to data shared by IMD officials. Delhi registered a high of 32.1 degrees Celsius on Tuesday (February 28), at the Safdarjung Observatory, which was seven notches above normal.

"Temperatures in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Delhi have reached up to 28-33 degrees Celsius during 18-20 February and it is also above normal by 5-9 degrees Celsius," IMD said.


Brace for heat waves

According to the Met department, the heat will increase further in the first week of March. According to weather experts, several parts of North India, including Delhi-NCR, may experience severe heat in March.

IMD said that most parts of the country are expected to experience above-normal temperatures while the southern peninsula and parts of Maharashtra are likely to escape the brunt of harsh weather conditions.

"Enhanced probability of occurrence of a heat wave during March to May season is likely over many regions of Central and adjoining Northwest India," IMD said in a statement.

SC Bhan, the Head of the Hydromet and Agromet Advisory Services of IMD, said that there was little probability of heat waves in March, but most parts of the country could experience extreme weather conditions in April and May.

Why are temperatures rising so rapidly?

The most logical explanation has always been the fact that there has been a rapid rise in global warming. "The entire globe is living in an era of global warming. We are living in a warming world," IMD's Bhan said when asked about climate change.

But the more specific explanation for this situation is being attributed to the absence of any active western disturbance in February, a dry spell in the plains, and very minimal rainfall and snowfall in the hilly regions.


Western disturbance is an extra tropical storm that originates in the Mediterranean region and brings sudden winter rain to the northwestern parts of the Indian subcontinent.

According to the IMD, the high temperatures in February have also been triggered by an anti-cyclone over south Gujarat. "This leads to subsidence of air and hence warming over Gujarat and advection of heat energy to northwest India in association with this anti-cyclone" IMD said in its report.

What is Heatwave?

Heatwave is considered if the maximum temperature of a place reaches at least 40 degrees Celsius or more for plains and at least 30 degrees Celsius or more for hilly regions. For coastal regions, heatwaves may be described when the maximum temperature is 4.50 degrees or more from normal, provided the maximum temperature is 37 degrees Celsius or more.

Heatwaves all around the world

In 2022, multiple heatwaves around the world shattered temperature records and fueled wildfires. Heatwaves struck Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, in June and July 2022 as temperatures climbed above 40 degrees Celsius in places and broke many long-standing records, reported NASA.

The record-breaking heat and dry weather triggered wildfires across Europe forcing thousands of people to evacuate their homes across France, Spain, Portugal, UK and Greece.

Last updated: March 01, 2023 | 12:46
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