The all-time record is 43.3 degrees Celsius recorded on May 2, 1896

At 43 degrees Celsius, the city recorded the hottest day in over a century on Thursday, very close to the all-time record of 43.3 degrees Celsius registered on May 2, 1896, listed in the extreme weather events for the city on the Indian Meteorological Department website.

Over the past decade, May 22, 2007, has been the hottest day in the city when the temperature touched 42.2 degrees Celsius. The mercury did cross the 41 degrees Celsius mark during the month in 2009, 2005 and 2003 too. The maximum temperature recorded last year was 40.9 degrees Celsius on May 8.

Though May is usually the hottest month for the city, the last few days have been real dog days as the temperature has been consistently three to five degrees above normal. City residents have been wilting this summer which was off to an early and blazing start this year.

The city recorded temperature above 40 degrees Celsius, three degrees above normal, in April this year. The normal average temperature in Tiruchi in April is 36.9 C, and 37.4 C in May and 36.7 C in June, though the mercury often crosses the 40 C mark in the region at the height of summer in May.

The forecast by the weatherman remains grim. The maximum temperature in the city is expected to be around 43 degrees Celsius over the next three days, indicates the IMD website.

The dry spell following the monsoon failure last year has left residents scurrying for cover. Many residents, except those are out on work, are staying indoors especially in the early afternoon as evident from the thin traffic and people movement on the roads between noon and 3 p.m.

The maximum temperature in some of the neighbouring districts such as Karur, Perambalur, Ariyalur and Pudukottai has also been hovering over 40 degrees Celsius over the past few days. On Thursday, Pudukottai recorded 43 degrees Celsius.

But meteorologists do not see any unusual reason for the hot weather.

“The rise in temperature has been due to a combination of factors such as strong westerly winds and clear sky. Urbanisation is another general factor. Tiruchi is also known for heat radiation,” S.R.Ramanan, Director, Regional Meteorological Centre, Chennai, told The Hindu.

Given the rocky outcrops such as the Rockfort, the Golden Rock, Khajamalai and Irattaimalai around the city, residents have to bear the heat radiation which lasts till late in the evening.

“This seems to be one of the worst summers I have experienced in the city. The heat has been unbearable. Children and senior citizens are the worst sufferers. After the hike in power tariff, we can’t afford to keep the air conditioner running through the day. Our power bills have already shot up as we have to use the air conditioner at night,” rues G.Chithra, a tailor who has been living in the city for the past four decades.

Some have taken refuge in other cities by visiting relatives for long holidays. S.Rangarajan, a senior citizen, has been apprehensive of returning to the city from Bangalore after being told about the weather here.

“I had planned to return to the city about 10 days ago, but postponed it. It seems I need to hold on here for some more time,” he told The Hindu over telephone. As people looked up to the sky for rain, a cloud cover that gathered over the city on Friday evening belied the fervent expectations.