Met officials say mercury will hover around 39 degrees for at least two days

After a brief respite, the city is back to its sweltering ways. Monday was the hottest day in the month with the mercury level peaking to 38.6 degrees Celsius in Chennai.

Residents of city had escaped from the searing weather for some days due to the impact of a well-marked low pressure area in the Bay of Bengal. With the system moving away, strong westerlies that bring hot air set in over the city. At Meenambakkam, the day temperature was 39.3 degree Celsius.

Commuters, petty traders and autorickshaw drivers bore the brunt as the sun beat down relentlessly. Those on the streets would have felt like the temperatures were 42-43 degree Celsius due to the humidity and hot winds.

K. Vinothini, a resident of Perungudi, said she chose to travel by AC bus to take shelter from the scorching weather. “But, it was hot inside the bus too and the AC was not of much use in the afternoon,” she said.

Several autorickshaw drivers said they are now avoiding long trips during afternoon hours. M.Venkatesh of Anna Nagar said “It is increasingly becoming difficult to be on the road between 12.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. I take long lunch breaks or rest under trees. I work extra at night.”

Officials of the meteorological department said the maximum temperature rose to 38.6 degree Celsius around 11.30 a.m. on Monday. Though the sea breeze set in the next one hour, residents would have felt more heat as temperatures drop only slowly.

This year, the reversal of winds to strong westerlies was delayed because of the low pressure area. “Coastal areas like Chennai have the benefit of cool sea breeze. From now, onset of sea breeze will decide the day’s weather,” said an official.

Last year, the mercury level soared to 42.7 degree Celsius on May 27. As per the department’s records, Chennai witnessed its hottest day on May 31, 2003, when the temperature peaked to 45 degree Celsius.

Chennaiites may have to brace themselves for the harsh summer with the department predicting that the temperature will hover around 39 degree Celsius for two more days.

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