Summer has barely begun in south India. But the heat has gripped the region with a vengeance. Cities and towns across the five southern states are already seeing soaring temperatures.
Telangana and Andhra are bearing the brunt of the heat. On 27 March , Andhra’s Anantapur hit a blistering high of 41.7 degrees C. Adilabad in Telangana was close behind at 41.6 degrees C. Nizamabad too was over 41 degrees C.
Mahbubnagar and Medak in Telangana and Kurnool in Andhra also crossed 40 degrees C, while Telangana capital Hyderabad stayed just shy of the mark at 39.9 degrees C.
And the Met office offers no respite for the next five days forecasting that the hot and dry weather will continue, with temperatures staying two-three degrees above normal.
Parts of north Karnataka have also been wilting under high temperatures. Kalaburagi’s temperatures were 1.7 degrees above normal, hitting a sizzling 40.7 degrees C. Vijayapura hovered 2.4 degrees above normal at 40.4 degrees C. In south Karnataka, Ballari breached the 40-degree mark, reaching 40.2 degrees C. And Raichur followed close behind at 39 degrees C.
Forecasts say that temperatures will continue to remain high, with April kicking off with a temperature of 41 degrees C in Kalaburagi, Vijayapura and Ballari. And Raichur will be joined at 39 degrees C by Gadag and Chitradurga.
Tamil Nadu remained moderately better, with only one location hitting the 40 degrees C mark – Tirupathur. But Salem, Vellore and Dharmapuri all saw temperatures of 39 degrees C on 27 March. And Thiruthani hit 39 degrees C on 26 March.
Over the next five days, the Met department says, most of Tamil Nadu will remain hot and dry. Only isolated parts of southern Tamil Nadu will receive rain on 31 March.
Kerala has remained lowest on the temperature scale so far. But here too, Palakkad and Vellanikara have been showing higher than average temperatures, with Palakkad hitting 39.4 degrees C on 27 March, and Vellanikara coming close behind at 39.1 degrees C.
The Met department predicts that Kerala will not touch 40 degrees C this week, but predicts that the mark will be reached soon after that.
None of these temperature levels are not yet high enough to officially qualify as a heatwave, which is only declared when temperatures are at least five degrees higher than the normal temperature.
However, eight persons have reportedly already died of sunstroke and other heat-related conditions in Kurnool.
And the Indian Meteorological Department has predicted that all sub-divisions of the country will face a hotter-than-normal summer, with many parts of the country including Telangana likely to experience “above normal moderate to severe heat wave conditions”.
This is an alarming forecast for India, considering that over 22,500 people have died of heat-related conditions since 1992.
Even more alarmingly, the number of annual deaths has not fallen below 1,000 since 2012. 2015 saw the worst situation, where a prolonged heatwave claimed over 2,500 lives.
(The story first appeared on The News Minute and has been republished with permission.)
Join The Quint on WhatsApp. Type “JOIN” and send to 9910181818.