Kerala to feel impact of heatwave in TN, Karnataka, says climate expert

Poll disrupts plan to set up heat clinics, hold campaigns to prep for extreme weather conditions
Kerala to feel impact of heatwave in TN, Karnataka, says climate expert

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM : Kerala is expected to experience above-normal temperatures due to the heatwave in neighbouring Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and the ongoing El Nino event that is expected to persist till May. While a heatwave alert hasn’t been officially declared in the state, districts bordering Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, like Kannur, Kasaragod, Palakkad, and Kollam, are likely to see scorching temperatures.

On Saturday, Palakkad reported 41.5 degrees Celsius, the highest temperature reported in the state after 2016. Palakkad district has been recording above 40C temperatures for the last four consecutive days.

“Kerala will experience a near heatwave-like condition. There will be repercussions for the state because of the heatwave situation in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The humidity index is higher in Kerala and even if we don’t meet the criteria for the heatwave there will be heatwave-type events. Hot and uncomfortable conditions will continue as IMD has predicted less summer rains this season,” said M G Manoj, a scientist with Cusat’s Advanced Centre for Atmospheric Radar Research (ACARR).

According to official records, around 60 heat-related events, including sunburn and sunstroke cases, have been reported in the state till March 19. This includes a suspected death in Malappuram district, an official source said.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a yellow alert for several districts in Kerala till April 12, warning of hot and uncomfortable conditions. “On Saturday, the temperature was nearly 4.8 degrees above normal in Palakkad. A heatwave can be declared only if similar or higher variation is reported for two consecutive days. On Sunday, the temperature dropped to 40.5C,” said a weather expert with the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA).

Meanwhile, the declaration of the Lok Sabha election and the model code of conduct have come as a heavy blow to various activities taken up by KSDMA, including mock drills, heat clinics and extensive campaigns to make Kerala resilient to extreme heat.

“All the intermediary agencies are busy with elections. District collectors were in charge of many activities planned to increase preparedness of the state. Mock drills and training for stakeholders at vulnerable heat points where temperatures are on the rise and extensive campaigning were part of the action plan. This is not happening effectively,” an official source said.

The setting up of heat clinics was one of the major decisions taken by the state government to deal with heat-related health events. “The health department had submitted the proposal for setting up heat clinics. But now it looks like the project will be approved only after the election. We will be ill-prepared to face critical days,” the source added.

Cold facts of a heatwave

According to IMD, a heatwave is defined as a maximum temperature of 40C or more for the plains, 37C or more for coastal stations and 30C for hilly regions. An increase of 4-5C from the normal is considered a heatwave condition, while an increase of 6C or more is considered a severe heatwave condition.

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