Parts of northern and western India reeled under scorching heat on Wednesday, with temperatures hovering near the 50 degree-mark in Delhi and Rajasthan, while the IMD said no immediate respite is likely from the ongoing heatwave conditions.
Also read: Jammu sizzles at 42.6 C; heatwave grips region
In the national capital, the mercury settled six notches above normal in most areas. Palam remained the hottest with a maximum temperature of 47.2 degrees Celsius, marginally less than Tuesday's 47.6 degrees Celsius.
In large areas, a heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is 45 degrees Celsius for two consecutive days and a severe heatwave is when the mercury touches 47 degrees Celsius for two days on the trot.
In small areas, like the national capital, a heatwave is declared if the temperature soars to 45 degrees Celsius even for a day, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The Safdarjung Observatory, which provides representative figures for Delhi, recorded a maximum temperature of 45.9 degrees Celsius.
The last time the mercury touched the 46-degree mark at the Safdarjung weather station was on May 19, 2002, said Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the regional forecasting centre of the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The all-time record for Safdarjung in May is 47.2 degrees Celsius. It was recorded on May 29, 1944.
The IMD said the weather stations at Lodhi Road and Ayanagar recorded maximum temperatures of 45.1 degrees Celsius and 46.7 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Severe heatwave conditions prevailed in Rajasthan. Churu was the hottest place in the state with a maximum temperature of 49.6 degrees Celsius, according to the meteorological (MeT) department.
On Tuesday, Churu had recorded a high of 50 degrees Celsius -- the district's second-highest maximum temperature in the month of May in the last 10 years.
Ganganagar, Bikaner and Kota recorded maximum temperatures of 48.9 degrees Celsius, 48 degrees Celsius and 47.2 degrees Celsius, respectively, on Wednesday.
Jaisalmer recorded a high of 46.1 degrees Celsius, Barmer 45.9 degrees Celsius, Jaipur 44.8 degrees Celsius and Ajmer 44 degrees Celsius.
The weather department said heatwave conditions will continue in the state for the next 24 hours.
Neighbouring Haryana, too, reeled under blistering heat, with Narnaul recording the highest maximum temperature at 47.2 degrees Celsius, the weather department said.
Hisar recorded a maximum temperature of 46.3 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal.
Among other places in the state, Ambala sizzled at 43.8 degrees Celsius, while the mercury settled at 42.8 degrees Celsius in Karnal.
Sweltering heat also swept Punjab, where Patiala recorded a high of 44.2 degrees Celsius, four notches above normal.
Amritsar and Ludhiana also recorded above-normal temperatures of 43.5 degrees Celsius and 44.2 degrees Celsius, respectively.
Chandigarh, the common capital of Haryana and Punjab, also experienced a hot day at 42.9 degrees Celsius -- four degrees above normal.
Jammu recorded the hottest day of the season as the mercury settled at 42.6 degrees Celsius, 3.5 notches above the season's average, the MeT department said.
The city recorded a low of 26.4 degrees Celsius, which was also 1.5 degrees above normal, it said.
Srinagar recorded a maximum temperature of 30.3 degrees Celsius -- 4.2 notches above normal. It is a marginal drop from Tuesday's 31.7 degrees Celsius.
Katra, the base camp for pilgrims visiting Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district, recorded a maximum temperature of 37.5 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 23.7 degrees Celsius.
The weather department predicted isolated light rain or thunder in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir during the next 24 hours. But there will be an increase in precipitation over the subsequent two days.
The IMD said the ongoing heatwave conditions in several parts of north and central India are very likely to continue on Thursday. It said some respite can be expected only towards the end of the week.
"Due to the prevailing dry north-westerly winds over plains of northwest India, central India and the adjoining interior parts of eastern India, the present heatwave conditions are very likely to continue during next 24 hours," it said.
Heatwave conditions at many places with severe heatwave in isolated pockets are very likely over Vidarbha, west Rajasthan, it added.
Heatwave conditions are also likely in some pockets over Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, west Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and east Rajasthan, and in isolated pockets over Punjab, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha, Saurashtra and Kutch, central Maharashtra and Marathwada, Telangana and north interior Karnataka during the next 24 hours, according to the IMD.
A western disturbance is likely to give some relief on May 29 and 30. During this period, parts of north India are likely to witness dust storms and thunderstorms, it said.
Western disturbance is a cyclonic circulation which originates in the Mediterranean Sea. Traversing central Asia, it brings rains to the hills and plains when it comes in contact with the Himalayas.