Delhi: As temperatures in parts of the western region breached 50 Celsius (122°F) last week, India is bracing for another bout of extreme heat.
May and June are typically India's hottest months, when temperatures regularly exceed 40 Celsius in the run-up to the monsoon rains, but the severity of the heat this year has caught many off guard.
Heat wave in India
"There are usually thunderstorms this time of year, but these rains have not been occurring," said BP Yadav, head of India Meteorological Department.
"Hot winds have been blowing in from Afghanistan and Pakistan, leading to these extreme temperatures," as per Reuters.
The mercury hit a record 51 degrees Celsius last week in Phalodi, Rajasthan, beating a previous national high of 50.6 degrees in 1956.
The heat should ease with the arrival of clouds and light showers this week, Yadav said, but his office forecast a return to elevated temperatures in late May or early June.
Possible reasons for the rising temperatures ranged from global warming to greater urbanisation, leading to taller buildings and increased pollution, Yadav added.
The number of heat waves had nearly doubled in the 10 years to 2010 from earlier decades, the meteorological office said. The number in the last six years had also risen from prior to the year 2000, but identifying clear trends requires more data.
In January, two US government agencies said last year's global average temperature was the hottest ever by the widest margin on record.
Heat wave causes over 300 deaths in Telangana
Meanwhile, as many as 315 heat wave-related deaths have been reported in Telangana since the beginning of the summer season till May 21, according to officials of the state Disaster Management department.
"315 (heat wave-related) deaths were confirmed by the three-member committee. Nalgonda district recorded the highest death toll of 91," an official in the Disaster Management department Control Room said.
"There has been appreciable rise in maximum temperatures at one or two places over Telangana. The temperatures have been appreciably above normal at one or two places," India Meteorological Department (MET) said in a bulletin, as per PTI.
The highest maximum temperature of 46 degree Celsius was recorded at Ramagundam, the weatherman said.
"Heat wave conditions are very likely to prevail at isolated places in Adilabad, Nizamabad, Karimnagar, Medak, Nalgonda, Warangal and Khammam districts of the state during next 72 hours (May 23-25)," it added.
Light rain lashes Haryana, Punjab
On the other hand, light rain after dust storms in few places in Punjab and Haryana brought relief from heat wave conditions prevailing for the past several days.
According to the MeT Department here, the change in weather was due to a Western Disturbance which was active over the region.
Dust storm hit many places today which was followed by light rain including Phagwara, Nawanshahr, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Patiala among other places in Punjab and at Sirsa, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Hisar and Kurukshetra in Haryana, bringing some respite to the residents from the heat wave which had gripped the region for the last several days.
The maximum temperature had been hovering in the range of 41-45 degrees Celsius at most places in the two states with Hisar registering maximum temperature of over 47 degrees Celsius for last two days.
"A Western Disturbance lies over J&K and neighbourhood and its affect should remain until tomorrow. There are chances of light to moderate rain at many places," Director of the MeT Department here, Surinder Paul said.
Paul said from Wednesday the temperatures, which registered a slight drop today, will again start increasing.
"However, in the first week of June, temperatures will again dip," he added.
(With Agency inputs)