India’s western coast faces summer-like temperatures
India’s western coast is facing summer-like day-temperatures, with some places including Mumbai recording maximum temperatures close to 40 degrees Celsius on Monday -- highly unusual in the middle of February even in cities that don’t experience harsh winters -- according to data with the India Meteorological Department (IMD).
The temperatures were significantly higher than normal, leading to the entire western belt being marked in red on IMD’s national weather bulletin for Tuesday. The red on the IMD bulletin map indicates areas where maximum temperature is significantly higher than the expected temperature during this period.
Variation from normal for cities on the western coast ranged from between 4 degrees Celsius and 7.7 degrees Celsius. Normal is defined as the average temperature for a five-day period in the last 30 years, according to RK Jenamani, a senior scientist at the National Weather Forecasting Centre.
On Monday, Mumbai recorded a maximum temperature of 38.7 degrees Celsius (7 degrees above normal); Kannur in Kerala 37.2 degrees (4 degrees above normal); Bhuj in Gujarat 36.8 degrees (7 degrees above normal); Ratnagiri in Maharashtra 37 degrees (6 degrees above normal), and Mangalore in Karnataka 36.7 degrees (5 degrees above normal).
Experts said the principal reason for this was a low-level easterly wind blowing from the landward side. “The sea breeze usually modulates temperature in the western coast, but the wind direction has been from the opposite direction of sea breeze for the past few days, leading to temperatures shooting up in entire peninsular India,” explained K Sathi Devi, head of the National Weather Forecasting Centre.
“Tomorrow (Wednesday) there is likely to be a northerly component in the winds affecting some of the western region. So there may be temporary relief for parts of Maharashtra, but easterly winds are likely to affect other parts of peninsular India for the next two to three days, during which period the temperatures will continue to be high,” she added. The maximum temperature in Mumbai on Tuesday improved marginally to 36.5 degrees Celsius -- still 6 degrees above normal.
“The high temperatures in the western coast are mainly a result of wind circulation and speed. The easterly component is impacting the region. The western disturbance, which will impact north-west India on February 20, may also bring some relief to western parts of the country,” said RK Jenamani, a senior scientist at he National Weather Forecasting Centre.
Another expert said the conditions were the result of an anticyclone over the west-central Arabian Sea. “That is why hot easterly winds are blowing over the west coast. The anticyclone may move away westwards on Wednesday, bringing some respite to parts of Maharashtra and Guajarat and bringing down temperatures to 34 or 35 degrees Celsius. But there will only be a marginal dip in the maximum temperatures in coastal Karnataka, Kerala and other areas because no weather activity is expected which can disrupt the pattern,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice president, climate change and meteorology, at Skymet Weather. The temperature in Ahmedabad is expected to be in the mid-30s when US President Donald Trump visits on February 24 and 25, Palawat added. This will be roughly 4 to 5 degrees above normal.
IMD’s Tuesday bulletin also said that a western disturbance is lying over Kashmir, and may bring isolated to scattered rainfall over the Western Himalayan region in the next two days. A fresh western disturbance is also likely to affect the regions and its adjoining plains from February 20, bringing light to moderate but fairly widespread rain over parts of north-west India.