Extreme weather events in the capital: Data

With the wettest-ever June day and hottest-ever May day, an unusual spate of maximal weather has roiled Delhi

Updated - July 12, 2024 10:46 am IST

Published - July 11, 2024 10:00 pm IST

A man makes his way through a water logged road in New Delhi on July 09, 2024

A man makes his way through a water logged road in New Delhi on July 09, 2024 | Photo Credit: SHASHI SHEKHAR KASHYAP

In the past two months, Delhi has witnessed two extreme weather events: days of unrelenting heat in May followed by heavy rains in June. The capital also experienced the hottest-ever nights in June and year-round pollution, making it a tough year.

On June 28, the much-awaited arrival of the south-west monsoon turned into a nightmare when houses and streets got flooded. At least five people lost their lives, including a taxi driver who died when a canopy at the airport collapsed on him. According to the India Meteorological Department’s gridded data, the city received the highest-ever rainfall for a day in June (150.7 mm) since 1951 (Chart 1) . The previous high for a day in June was 97.3 mm of rainfall — over 50mm lower than the latest record — which occurred on June 30, 1981.

Chart 1 | The chart shows the daily rainfall received by Delhi on every June day since 1951. Each dot corresponds to rainfall recorded in each June day between 1951 and 2024.

Chart appears incomplete? Click to remove AMP mode

Just a month earlier, Delhi was sweltering under record-breaking heat. A report by a non-profit organisation, Centre for Holistic Development, stated that 192 homeless people died due to a heatwave in the capital (June 11-19). In May and June this year, for 38 consecutive days, the city’s maximum temperatures crossed the 40°C mark. On May 28, Delhi recorded a maximum temperature of 47.5°C, the highest-ever for a day in May in the capital since 1951 (Chart 2) . The second-highest (47.3°C) was recorded on May 29, the next day.

Chart 2 | The chart shows the daily maximum temperature in Delhi on every May day since 1951. Each dot corresponds to maximum temperature recorded in each May day between 1951 and 2024.

Also read: Reign of fire: On Delhi and the high heat

Nights did not provide relief either. The average minimum temperature for June this year was 29.6°C, the highest for any month since 1951 (Chart 3). ?

Chart 3 | The chart shows the average minimum temperature for all months since 1951.

Moreover, PM2.5 levels above India’s permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre were recorded on nearly all the days of November, December, and January (Chart 4). This was the case during many days of August too, when pollution is otherwise low.

Chart 4 | The chart shows the average daily PM2.5 levels recorded in Anand Vihar station. The grey dotted line indicates India’s permissible limit of 60 micrograms per cubic metre.

Source: Central Pollution Control Board, India Meteorological Department

nihalani.j@thehindu.co.in

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