Mumbai experienced its hottest February day in the past decade on Tuesday recording a scorching 39.1 degrees in Santacruz,seven degrees above normal. It was only 0.5 degrees lower than the all-time highest February temperature of 39.6 degrees recorded on February 25,1966.
After a short cold spell towards the end of last week due to a western disturbance in the north,the city saw a sharp rise in mercury levels with Colaba recording 36.8 degrees on Sunday,unusual for the island city especially considering it is still winter and almost seven degrees above normal.
Since then,maximum temperatures have been between four to seven degrees above normal in both Colaba and Santacruz. However,Tuesday saw a record-breaking 39.1 degrees,making it the hottest February day from 2002 to 2012 while Colaba recorded 35.2 degrees,five degrees above normal. Minimum temperatures were around normal,with the island city recording 22 degrees and the suburbs recording 17.8 degrees.
Tuesdays temperature was just a notch below the all-time record (the period IMD considers is the last 100 years) for highest February temperature of 39.6 degrees in February 1966. It could well be the hottest February day since 1966 but IMD could not confirm it due to lack of consolidated data at the control room.
The Met department said Tuesdays record temperature was not that unusual as February has seen temperatures rising to 37 or 38 degrees before,especially in the past 10 years (see table). Such fluctuations are always there and temperatures have been close to this mark before , said Ajay Kumar,meteorologist at IMD.
The rise in temperatures is because the winds in the city are easterly,which are hot and dry surface winds. These winds do not let the sea breeze,which brings moisture,settle in. Thus,in the absence of moisture,temperatures have risen, said Kumar. Humidity levels in the city at 5.30 pm on Tuesday were as low as 29 per cent in Colaba and 22 per cent in Santacruz.
The recent spell of fluctuating temperatures in the city can be attributed to the transition from winter to summer,said weather officials. This is a changing of the season and conditions will slowly transform into summer patterns. Thus,the last week of February and the first week of March will see fluctuating temperatures in the city as the transition takes place, said Kumar.
Weathermen do not expect a further increase in temperatures and said they will fall gradually. A fall of two degrees in maximum temperatures is expected over the next few days, said Kumar.