Build up to ‘Dangerous’ Heat Wave This Week? Here’s a Fact-Check

A weather portal has warned of a ‘dangerous’ heat wave in Delhi and northern India this week. Is that really true?

While most of us are anticipating soaring temperatures in May, June and July across the country, the weather portal Accuweather jumped the gun by posting an article on Tuesday with the jarring headline: “Dangerous Heat Wave to Build in New Delhi, Northern India This Week".

The headline, along with the body of the article, doesn't represent the entire facts, and hence merits a quick fact check.

First, it is important to characterise a heat wave – something the article fails to do.

A heat wave is said to be experienced when there is an abnormal rise in the temperature. This rise has to be at least 5 degree Celsius above normal.

For a heat wave, the base or minimum temperature has to be 40 degree Celsius in the plains, 37 degree Celsius in coastal areas and 30 degree Celsius in the hills. It has a technical definition and can't be used as a mere adjective to describe the heat.

Second, the article declares: “Temperatures will peak around 40-41 C (104-106 F) from Wednesday through Saturday.”

This line from the body of the article on the capital's weather is misleading and is bound to create worry.

While temperatures will be on a slight rise in Delhi, according to the Indian Meteorological Department they won’t touch 40 degree Celsius till 17 April.

To add to this, as the week progresses the average and maximum temperatures will converge over the week, further reducing chances of a heat wave in Delhi.

Third, Accuweather goes on to say:

Despite early bouts of dangerous heat this year, many locations such as Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh will record their highest temperatures of the year thus far during the upcoming wave. 

The IMD has begun to put out a forecast for heat waves for the week.

After the heat wave is to subside in parts of Gujarat by 12 April, there won’t be a heat wave in North India or any other part of the country till 15 April.

Fourth, the article fails to mention the areas which are experiencing the heat wave currently.  

According to the IMD’s Director General of Meteorology, Dr M Mohapatra, only isolated parts of Gujarat, namely Saurashtra and Kutch, is at present experiencing a heat wave, which began on 11 April. This is expected to normalise by 13 April.

So, if the article talks about a imminent ‘dangerous’ heat wave, it’s a little odd for the news report not to mention the areas experiencing one right now.

While how the heat wave will pan out a week from now is unknown, it's imperative to hydrate yourself as we come closer to the peak of the 2017 summers.