The city and its suburbs experienced one of the hottest days this month on Monday, making life difficult for many residents.

The maximum temperature was 35.3 degree Celsius in Nungambakkam and 36.9 degree Celsius in Meenambakkam. The hottest day was on March 16 when the temperature soared to 36 degree Celsius in Nungambakkam and 37 degree Celsius in Meenambakkam. Chennai has been experiencing relatively high temperature in March as compared to previous years. The maximum temperature has been hovering two to three degree Celsius above the average.

Many motorists said the searing heat on Monday was similar to that usually experienced in April and May. The hot sultry weather was felt as early as 8 a.m. Some motorists complained of symptoms associated with sunburns.

Hawkers dealing in cut fruits and sugarcane juice shops did brisk business as several people halted to get respite from the heat. By afternoon, more people headed towards the Marina and Elliots beaches. Officials of the Meteorological Department said westerly wind that brings in hot air, which normally prevail during mid-April, set in early this year. This has led to rise in maximum temperature. Y.E.A.Raj, Deputy Director General of Meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre, said there has been more westerly wind's influence this year. However, the temperature in Chennai is not as uncomfortable as in some interior parts of the State, thanks to early onset of sea breeze. Sometimes, the wind shifts from westerly to easterly happens as early as 11 a.m. bringing in cool air, he said. The hottest March of the decade in the city was in 2006, when the mercury level touched 37.1 degree Celsius on March 28. The all-time high temperature in March was 40.6 degree Celsius in 1953, he said. The department has forecast that the temperature would be around 36 degree Celsius till Wednesday.

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