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Pre-Monsoon Heat Builds in India

May 25, 2014

By Everton Fox, Al Jazeera, Doha, Qatar

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May 25--Much of central and northern India is in the grips of a spell of very hot weather ahead of the onset of the monsoon rains. The high temperatures have left people looking for ways to escape the scorching sun, and it is expected to get even hotter over the coming days.

Of course, high temperatures are expected at this time of the year, as the sun continues to make its way north towards the Tropic of Cancer. Temperatures are now regularly reaching the lower to middle 100s.

Heatwave conditions have been in place across parts of Madya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Haryana for some time now.

On Saturday, the temperature in Barmer and Sidhi reached 43.6 Celsius. Jalore, Bhiwani and Khajuraho peaked at 44 degrees, whilst Damoh reached 44.8 Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). These figures are high by anyone's valuation and do constitute a heatwave.

The World Meteorological Organization definition of a heatwave is "when the daily maximum temperature of more than five consecutive days exceeds the average maximum temperature by 5C, the normal period being 1961-1990".

May and June are usually the hottest months in India. Temperatures are likely to edge up beyond 47 Celsius (117 degrees Fahrenheit) by the time the monsoon rains arrive.

Monsoon refers to the change in wind direction and not the actual rainfall. Hence we have a dry northeasterly monsoon in winter and the wet southwesterly monsoon in summer. The onset of the summer rains is usually around 1 June stretching from Sri Lanka and southern India and up to northwest Myanmar.

There is currently some very heavy rain affecting northern sections of the Bay of Bengal. A clutch of thunderstorms have been affecting Bangladesh and northeastern India for the past few days now.

There has been some flooding in Bangladesh, with Dhaka receiving 271mm (10.7 inches) of rain in just 24 hours compared to a monthly average of 194mm (7.6 inches). It is possible that this area of storms could develop into a cyclone in the coming days.

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(c)2014 Al Jazeera (Doha, Qatar)

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Story Image: A nomadic Gujjar man holds an umbrella to shield himself from the sun as cattle bathe in the Tawi River in Jammu, India, Saturday, May 24, 2014. AP Photo/Channi Anand

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