An unrelenting heatwave spell that ensnared the national capital for 11 days finally lost its grip late on Wednesday night after cool, gusty winds swept through Delhi’s simmering streets and slashed temperatures by several degrees on Thursday.

Several stations in the Capital clocked temperatures below 40°C on Thursday: 39.6°C at Palam, 39.4°C at Lodhi Road and 38.6°C at Ridge. (Sanchit Khanna/HT Photo)

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The minimum temperature on Thursday fell to 29.6°C, from 35.2°C a day ago, snapping a streak of six consecutive “warm nights” and giving way to relatively comfortable conditions.

Similarly, the maximum temperature plunged as well, falling from 43.6°C on Wednesday to 40°C on Thursday, just a degree above normal and the lowest in 38 days – since 39.8°C on May 12.

Thursday’s maximum was well below the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) threshold for a heatwave, which is declared when the day temperature is over 40°C and at least 4.5 degrees above normal.

Several stations in the Capital clocked temperatures below 40°C on Thursday: 39.6°C at Palam, 39.4°C at Lodhi Road and 38.6°C at Ridge.

The Ridge station also recorded “trace” rainfall till 8.30am, said IMD, which also attributed the drop in temperatures to a western disturbance.

“We saw an end to warm night and heatwave conditions on Thursday, due to the western disturbance, which brought the city strong, gusty winds on Wednesday night,” said an IMD official.

The agency warned that temperatures will rise once again in a day or two.

“The maximum may rise to 43°C again, but this spell will not be as intense as the one that has passed. Towards the end of the month, there is also a likelihood of more pre-monsoon activity,” the official added.

Monsoon usually sets in over the Capital towards the end of June or early July.

Mahesh Palawat, vice-president at Skymet said winds predominantly blew in from the southwest, with the western disturbance bringing in moisture from the Arabian sea.

“We were recording high temperatures. After moisture was added to this, clouds and gusty winds took form rapidly,” he said.

Palawat also said Delhi’s next heatwave spell is not likely to last as long or be as intense as the previous ones.

The latest heatwave spell – where at least one or more Delhi station recorded heatwave conditions, lasted 11 straight days. At least 53 people have died of heat-related illnesses this summer.

The first heatwave spell was recorded between May 17 and May 20. From May 21 onwards, moist easterly winds led to a drop in temperature and heatwave conditions abating.

The second spell – the harshest of the three so far, lasted 12 days, between May 25 and June 5, with the maximum touching as high as 46.8°C on May 29 at Safdarjung.

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In terms of warm nights, this was a streak of six straight days, the highest in at least 13 years, IMD data stated.

The western disturbance also helped Delhi’s air quality, bringing it back to “moderate”, a day after it touched “very poor”. The 24-hour average Air Quality Index (AQI) was 176 at 4pm on Thursday. It was 306 (very poor) a day earlier, due to dust intrusion.