Mumbai experienced scorching heat on Wednesday after day temperatures shot up by seven degrees Celsius from Tuesday to 40.8 degrees Celsius in the suburbs, 8 degrees Celsius above the normal. Wednesday was the second hottest day in the month of March, in a decade.
Maximum temperatures at South Mumbai, too, saw a spike -- 36.3 degrees Celsius, five degrees Celsius above normal. In comparison, the maximum temperatures on Tuesday was seen relatively low at 33.3 and 31.4 degrees Celsius at Santacruz and Coloaba respectively.
A 46-year-old Asha Anil Pawar, originally from Ahmednagar, died while participating in a protest by an anganwadi workers at Azad Maidan ground on Wednesday afternoon. Her fellow protestors said the reason for her death was probably sunstroke, as she never had any history of medical problems. The deceased was brought to GT Hospital in Fort and the post-moretem reports are awaited.
"We had been protesting since 10am and it was extremely hot throughout the day. Around 2pm, she collapsed on the ground due to sunstroke. The government has promised a compensation for her death," said MA Patil, convener, Anganwadi Karamchari action committee.
KS Hosalikar, deputy director general of western region, India Meteorological Department (IMD) said, "This extreme temperature is a result of strong dry and hot winds coming from the east that are at the surface and above the surface. As a result, temperatures had risen till about 1pm. By the evening, the sea breeze (north-westerly winds) sets in bringing the temperatures down."
"The rise is defined as extreme temperatures or hot day. There is a drop in moisture levels and thus it is warm and dry," added Hosalikar.
The maximum temperature had reached 41.3 degrees Celsius on March 22, 2011. However, the highest recorded maximum temperature in the month of March has been 41.7 degrees Celsius, recorded on March 28, 1956.
"I couldn't even wear my helmet as it heated up because of the extreme heat conditions and the hot wind was hitting my face while driving, it is becoming unbearable," said Rahul V Rao, real estate agent in central Mumbai who uses a motorcycle to commute.
The IMD said such conditions would not continue for the coming days. "Such temperatures do not remain for long. We are expecting temperatures to come back to normal levels in the next 24 to 48 hours," said VK Rajeev, director, western region, IMD.
Since the start of the month, the minimum temperature has been fluctuating from 19 degrees Celsius up to 23 degrees Celsius. On Wednesday, the minimum temperature in Colaba was 25.5 degrees Celsius (2.4 degrees Celsius above normal) while Santacruz recorded 22.0 degrees Celsius. Humidity levels dipped extensively compared to previous days due to low moisture in the air.
The weather bureau has predicted partly cloudy skies for Thursday with maximum and minimum temperatures at 39 degrees Celsius and 23 degrees Celsius respectively.
* March 25, 2015 - 40.8 degrees Celsius
* March 18, 2014 - 38.0 degrees Celsius
* March 8, 2013 - 40.5 degrees Celsius
* March 25, 2012 - 39.5 degrees Celsius
* March 17, 2011 - 41.3 degrees Celsius
* March 23, 2010 - 38.0 degrees Celsius
* March 24, 2009 - 37.8 degrees Celsius
* March 10, 2008 - 35.7 degrees Celsius
* March 17, 2007 - 40.0 degrees Celsius
* March 30, 2006 - 38.0 degrees Celsius
* March 19, 2005 - 36.2 degrees Celsius
ALL TIME RECORD - March 28, 1956 - 41.7 degrees Celsius