Residents of a housing society cool off with a "rain dance" organised to beat the heat on a hot summer day in Greater Noida, outskirts of New Delhi, India. Image Credit: AP file

New Delhi; India is predicting blistering heat across swathes of the country in May, which could strain the power network, hurt the economy and threaten people’s lives.

Monthly maximum temperatures are expected to be above normal over east-central and eastern regions, according to the India Meteorological Department. Parts of northeast India will also see hotter weather.

The South Asian nation has been bracing for a searing summer after record-shattering heat in 2022 that caused widespread suffering and affected global wheat supplies. Businesses and traders are now factoring in extreme weather in their investment decisions as the frequency of such events increases.

Heat waves trigger spikes in electricity use as people switch on their air conditioners and fans, piling more pressure on the power grid and increasing the risk of blackouts. For the millions in the world’s most populous country who toil outdoors, many without adequate protection, the heat leads to productivity losses and can even be deadly.

Temperatures aren’t the only factor that makes heat waves dangerous. Humidity can also be fatal when the human body can’t cool itself by sweating.

India is far from being the only nation experiencing stifling heat this year. Temperatures in Thailand and Bangladesh have been soaring, while Yunnan province in China is grappling with drought.

Temperatures are likely to be normal to below normal in parts of northwest and west-central India in May, the weather office said.

It predicted that El Nino may develop during the upcoming monsoon season, a weather pattern that is associated with drier conditions and reduced rainfall in India. However, that may be offset by positive Indian Ocean Dipole conditions which are also likely to develop and could bring greater monsoon rainfall.