In a meteorological anomaly of astounding proportions, the capital city found itself besieged by relentless heat as the mercury climbed to a staggering 40.1 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung. This fiery surge marks an exceptional occurrence, as it signifies the first instance in over three decades, precisely 32 years, that the city has witnessed such searing temperatures in the month of September.
The sweltering conditions prevailing over New Delhi can be attributed to the conspicuous absence of monsoon rains, coupled with the unrelenting arid westerly winds emanating from Pakistan. The relentless blaze of the sun, unhindered by clouds, unleashed an unprecedented wave of heat that enveloped the city.
The mercury’s ascent to 40.1 degrees Celsius at Safdarjung constitutes an extraordinary deviation, soaring a remarkable six degrees above the seasonal norm and registering a substantial 2.9-degree increment from the preceding day’s peak. Remarkably, this marks the first time since June 14 of the current year that temperatures have surged beyond the formidable 40-degree threshold at the city’s principal meteorological station.
It is imperative to underscore the rarity of this meteorological event, as the recorded temperature on Monday nearly approached the historical pinnacle for September, standing at 40.6 degrees Celsius. This formidable record was etched in the annals of meteorological history at Safdarjung on September 16, 1938. In the extensive dataset maintained by the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) since 1992, the previous highest temperature observed during this month was 38.5 degrees Celsius on September 4, 2005.
Comparatively, the highest daytime temperatures in September for the years 2022 and 2021 stood at 38 and 36.2 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Notably, Safdarjung was not the sole victim of this meteorological ordeal. The relentless heatwave engulfed several parts of the city, with temperatures ascending to 40 degrees Celsius at the Sports Complex situated in the Commonwealth Games village near Akshardham, 39.3 degrees Celsius at Pitampura, 38 degrees Celsius at Najafgarh, 37.9 degrees Celsius at Pusa, and 37.7 degrees Celsius at the Ridge.
While the nocturnal respite brought a semblance of relief with the minimum temperature resting at 26.3 degrees Celsius, which is one degree above the customary low. The relative humidity fluctuated between 39% and 86%.
Attributing this scorching phenomenon, R K Jenamani, a senior scientist at IMD, expounded, “Dry westerly winds originating from Pakistan and western Rajasthan precipitated this surge in temperatures.” The ominous absence of cloud cover and the relentless drought conditions, stemming from the feeble monsoon patterns, further exacerbated the relentless rise in temperatures, as elucidated by meteorological officials.
The records maintained by the meteorological authority reveal a stark absence of rain activity in the city for the preceding ten days. The last instance of precipitation in Delhi occurred on August 24, with Safdarjung documenting a mere 6.4mm of rainfall. The month of August bore witness to a stark rain deficit of 61%, as Safdarjung received a meager 91.8mm of rainfall in contrast to the expected monthly average of 233.1mm. Meteorological experts attribute this paucity in rainfall to the persistent shift of the monsoon trough away from Delhi, consequently resulting in the meager precipitation in August.
Projections indicate a marginal dip in daytime temperatures, with an expected range hovering around 37 degrees Celsius on Tuesday. There is a faint glimmer of respite on the horizon, as the possibility of sporadic light rain or thundershowers is anticipated on Tuesday night and Wednesday. The maximum temperature is forecasted to stabilize at approximately 35-36 degrees Celsius from September 6 to 10.
Meanwhile, the air quality in Delhi, though marginally improved, remains within the “moderate” category, signifying an Air Quality Index (AQI) of 136 on Monday. According to the Air Quality Early Warning System for Delhi, an institution operating under the aegis of the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences, the air quality is anticipated to retain its “moderate” status until September 7. Subsequently, a gradual enhancement in air quality is envisaged, with the AQI oscillating between “moderate” and “satisfactory” categories for the ensuing six days.