World weatherwatch: heatwave grips India, with no relief in sight

Temperature hits 46.8C in Delhi, while south-east Alaska battles two years of drought

Two-thirds of India is being gripped by a severe heatwave, owing to clear skies and warm north-westerly winds, with many parts of the country breaking temperature records. The mercury rose to 46.8C (116F) in Delhi last Thursday, the highest May temperature since 2013, while Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh, northern India, also broke its 1994 record maximum temperature with 48.6C. Relief does not appear to be on the horizon either, with the monsoon not due to reach north India until mid-June.

The wettest part of Alaska, the south-east region, has been experiencing a two-year drought that was upgraded last week to the second-highest level of drought severity, as measured by the US drought monitor. Precipitation varies widely across Alaska due to its different climatic zones, though local-scale issues have been exacerbating the problem: winds have been blowing in from the south and north, in place of the more common westerlies. So less moist air is reaching the mountains, reducing rainfall.

Several wildfires have recently ravaged Alberta, western Canada, as a result of prolonged unseasonably warm and dry weather. Smoke has also spread into the north-central US, affecting the weather in places. Thick pockets of smoke have been known to suppress the sun’s heat, resulting in less potent thunderstorm development.

Tamsin Green (MetDesk)

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