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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Deadly heatwave grips eastern India

Scorching temperatures have officials and healthcare professionals alarmed, with emergency procedures being activated.

The Indian state of Odisha is in the stranglehold of a brutal heatwave, with meteorologists not foreseeing relief in the near future; temperatures have hovered at or within the 40°C to 43.5°C range (104°F-110°F) for days, and combined with the dangerously dry winds the situation has health officials on alert, especially since the heat has already taken the lives of as many as ten people.

Roads have been largely empty, as people are preferring to stay indoors to avoid heat-related maladies; the state's hospitals and clinics have implemented emergency protocols to treat the stricken, and schools have been ordered closed across the state, beginning May 1st.

While heatwaves are not uncommon for this region of India, meteorologists are still concerned over what this early arrival could portend for the coming rainy season; if the trend extends into other sections of the country (which they are forecasting to occur) it could cause interruptions in the monsoon rains, which would have dire effects on agricultural production.

The 'summer season' in Odisha is from March though June, with the 'rainy season' occurring during the following three months; normally humid during this time of year (especially in coastal areas), a relentless, dry heat wave - combined with the anticipated El Nino - could limit rain totals, devastating crops dependent on heavier rains and potentially leading to critical food shortages.

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