Weather: Palakkad in Kerala records country's highest temperature, on Saturday
Hot winds from interior Tamil Nadu behind early heat
No high-temperature alert has been issued for Kerala today (Sunday). Over the past few days, the mercury has shot up, early into the season, in a few districts.
According to the Thiruvananthapuram office of the India Meteorological Department (IMD), Palakkad topped the temperature charts yesterday (Saturday) with a maximum of 37.1 degrees Celsius. This was also the highest recorded for the plains of the country as a whole for the day.
A watermelon vendor by the side of a busy road in Palakkad town, making watermelon juice.
Day temperatures were above normal by 1.6-3.0 degree Celsius at most places over Punjab, Konkan and Goa, South Interior Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, the New Delhi office of the IMD said.
January records broken in Kerala
In Kerala, Palakkad was closely followed by Vellanikkara (Thrissur) in the neighbourhood at 36.5 degrees Celsius; Punalur and Kottayam (35.5 degrees Celsius each); Kannur (35.4 degrees Celsius) and Kozhikode (35.0 degree Celsius).
Next in the list are Alappuzha and CIAL Kochi (34.5 degree Celsius); Karipur (Kozhikode) Airport and Amini (Lakshadweep) at 34.3 degree Celsius each. The IMD does not see any possibility of major showers in Kerala during the course of this week.
Hot inland winds from the South and East are mainly responsible for the early heat, driving the mercury up from January and early into this month, which are normally categorised under winter/early spring climes.
IMD data show that five stations had recorded all-time records for hot days for the month of January, coinciding with an announcement by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the US that January was the warmest in 141 years of climate record-keeping, beating the January of 2016.
The warmest year ever recorded is 2016, followed by 2019. Both, however, could be displaced if this year’s first month marks a trend, according to NOAA statistical analysis.
Back home in Kerala, Alappuzha recorded a maximum temperature of 37.3 degrees Celsius on January 25, breaking the previous record of 36.7 degrees Celsius reported on January 29, 1998. On January 23, 24, and 25 this year, Kottayam recorded 37 degrees Celsius on a trot, compared to the previous high of 36.6 degrees Celsius of January 30, 2007.
Hot winds from interior Tamil Nadu
Kannur in the North clocked 36.8 degree Celsius on January 23, breaking the previous record of 36.7 degrees Celsius of January 19, 1991. Likewise, CIAL Kochi reported a maximum temperature of 37.1 degrees Celsius on January 23 this year. The previous high was 36.1 degrees Celsius of January 30, 2017, and January 15 and 16, 2018. Vellanikkara in Thrissur reported 35.9 degrees Celsius on January 31, breaking the previous record of 35.7 degrees Celsius of January 25, 2017.
The high temperature regime in Kerala is sustained by strong hot and dry north-easterly winds blowing in from interior Tamil Nadu, mainly through the Palakkad and Punalur 'gaps' in the Western Ghats. Only evening sea breeze into land brings some relief, but limited only to areas where they can blow free.
Satellite maps clearly delineate the route for the hot easterlies - the wind stream to Palakkad is picked from as far east as Tiruchirappalli, Manapparai, Karur, Aravakurichi, Dharapuram, Tiruppur, Coimbatore, and Pollachi.
In the South, Punalur is linked to Madurai, Aruppukottai, Sattur, Kovilpatti, Kayathur and Kadayanallur. It is no accident that these gaps also feature large wind farms that tap into the steady easterly winds.
Meanwhile, the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) had put out an advisory to the public to be careful against of prospects of sunburn and sunstroke. The elderly, children and pregnant women have been asked to avoid direct sunlight between 11 am and 3 pm. Schools have been advised to ensure adequate drinking water supply and keep the class rooms airy.
The blogger @ChennaiRains gave a low-down on the building summer temperatures over Tamil Nadu.