The Indian Meteorological Department has warned of extremely hot weather in much of India likely to last for five days.

The west coast of India has witnessed very high temperatures for the past two days. Areas such as Saurashtra, Kutch, Konkan, Rajasthan, western Madhya Pradesh and parts of Gujarat and Odisha have been ravaged by severe heat wave conditions.

Temperatures soared to a whopping 41 degrees Celsius in parts of Gujarat and Rajasthan, while levels of 38-40 degrees were recorded around Vidharbha, Konkan and Goa regions. Mumbai, Thane and Raigad have also seen blistering heat since Monday with temperatures reaching nearly 40 degrees.

Maximum temperatures were 3 to 6 degrees above normal in many places in Punjab, Uttarakhand, Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, the IMD said in its forecast paper Tuesday. No significant change in mercury levels is expected for the next two days, after which they could gradually decline.

The heat waves are a further reminder that the climate crisis is not a distant possibility right now, but an emergency. Scientists around the world are unanimous that global warming due to man-made causes is increasing the likelihood of extreme weather events around the world.

Heat waves like these not only pose significant health risks, but they also reduce economic output by affecting the number of work hours that can be put into them.

India remains one of the most vulnerable countries to extreme weather events. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change had warned of such dangers to the country. Extreme heat has increased while extreme cold has decreased, and these trends will continue in the coming decades,” it had said of the Indian subcontinent.

Last year, a separate report by a team of scientists at the Euro-Mediterranean Climate Change Center had shown that if global temperature rise is not limited to 2 degrees Celsius, India’s heatwaves are likely to last 25 times longer by 2036-2065. †

IMD has warned that infants, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are vulnerable to the effects of the heat wave, particularly in South Punjab, South Haryana, Rajasthan and Vidharbha. “People in these regions should avoid exposure to heat, wear lightweight, light-colored, loose-fitting cotton clothing, and cover the head with a cloth, hat or umbrella, etc,” it said in a health advisory.

The weather forecasting agency has advised people to avoid direct heat exposure and stay hydrated by using oral rehydration salts or homemade drinks such as lemonade and buttermilk.

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