Delhi has been engulfed in an inferno of unprecedented heat, with temperatures skyrocketing to a searing 49.9°C, shattering previous records, amid relentless westerly winds from Rajasthan. The city is now under a red alert for an ongoing heatwave, with no significant relief expected in the next two days.

On Tuesday, cloudless skies and searing winds caused temperatures to hit unprecedented highs. Mungeshpur and Narela recorded a sweltering 49.9°C, while Najafgarh wasn't far behind at 49.8°C. At Safdarjung, the city's main weather station, the thermometer climbed to 45.8°C, the highest of the year and five degrees above the seasonal norm. The last time a higher maximum was recorded at Safdarjung was in 2020, with a peak of 46°C.

“Heat wave to severe heat wave conditions prevailed over most parts of Rajasthan; in many parts of Punjab, Haryana-Chandigarh-Delhi, in some parts of Madhya Pradesh; in isolated pockets of Uttar Pradesh. Heat wave conditions prevailed in isolated pockets of Jammu-Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, Vidarbha. Heat wave conditions have been prevailing over Gujarat since 15th; Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi, Rajasthan since 17th and over West Madhya Pradesh & West Uttar Pradesh since 18th May, 2024,” IMD states.

In the heart of Delhi, Tuesday's temperatures flirted tantalisingly close to the 50-degree mark.

These readings are the highest ever recorded by the automated weather stations in these locations since data collection began in 2022.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a red alert for severe heatwave conditions on Wednesday, with an orange alert in place for Thursday, predicting only a slight dip in temperatures. Some relief might come by Friday and Saturday, with a forecast of very light rain.

“Heavy to very heavy rainfall with extremely heavy falls observed at isolated places over Meghalaya, Tripura; Heavy to very heavy rainfall at isolated places over Assam, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Kerala & Mahe,” IMD adds.

Elsewhere, Rajasthan's Churu was the hottest place in India on Tuesday, reaching a scorching 50.5°C, nearing its all-time high of 50.8°C. The national record stands at 51°C, set in Phalodi, Rajasthan, in 2016.

Two other Delhi observatories also broke their previous records. Aya Nagar hit 47.6°C, surpassing the previous record of 47.4°C from May 1988, while the Ridge near Delhi University reached 47.5°C, topping the 47.2°C recorded in May 2022.

According to the IMD, a heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature hits 45°C or higher. On Tuesday, parts of Delhi experienced severe heatwave conditions, with temperatures soaring past 47°C. The red alert for Wednesday warns of continued extreme heat, while an orange alert for Thursday indicates that heatwave conditions will persist, albeit slightly less severe. Safdarjung's maximum temperature is expected to hover around 46°C.

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