Extreme heat conditions are expected during the next three months, coinciding with the election campaign, with the Central and the Western regions expected to face the worst impact, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said on Monday.

It was unusual to see Union Minister for Earth Sciences Kiren Rijiju ready for the press conference as it is a routine briefing held every month by the IMD’s Director-General. The minister said the country is likely to experience extreme weather conditions in the upcoming two-and-a-half months when around a billion people are expected to exercise their franchise. “It is going to be very challenging for all of us. Since we are the most populous country in the world and face extreme weather conditions, it makes it absolutely necessary for India to prepare in advance,” Rijiju said.

Mrityunjay Mohapatra, Director-General of IMD, said the increased outdoor activities during the 2024 general elections could heighten public vulnerability to heat waves. With greater exposure, there’s an elevated risk of heatwave-related health issues among the electorate and election staff, he said. The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) has already informed the Election Commission about the likely impact of heatwaves on the populace, he said. “IMD is providing the forecast and NDMA has formulated an advisory for the Election Commission to pre-emptively guide States and Union Territories in safeguarding the public against heat wave incidents,” he said.

However, normal to below-normal maximum temperatures are likely over some parts of the western Himalayan region, North-Eastern states and north Odisha, he said.

But, above-normal heatwave days are likely over most parts in the plains during April to June — 10-20 days against 4-8 days considered normal, he said. Gujarat, central Maharashtra, north Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, north Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh are likely to experience the worst impact of heat waves, IMD said.

La Nina conditions

Stressing that the extreme heatwave conditions are normally seen during El Nino years, he said the conditions are likely to continue during April and May, before it becomes ENSO-neutral from June as predicted by most of the global models. He said it may become La Nina conditions during second half of India’s monsoon season (August-September).

El Nino is associated with drought conditions in India and south-east Asia whereas La Nina years bring more rains. IMD will release the monsoon forecast around mid-April, Mohapatra said.

Gujarat, Maharashtra, north Karnataka, Odisha, west Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh are predicted to experience the worst impact of heat waves in April.

The weather bureau said the country is likely to get normal rainfall in April. According to IMD criteria, rainfall between 88 per cent and 112 per cent of the long-period average of 39.2 mm is considered normal for April.

Predicting below-normal rainfall over the east and the west coasts and south peninsular India, he said normal to above-normal rainfall is likely be seen in North-West and some parts of central India. But, he clarified that the north-west India gets very little rain in summer.