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At 38.1°C, city records 3rd highest Feb temp in 10 years

At 38.1°C, the city saw its third highest February day temperature in 10 years on Monday and the worst air quality – 281 (poor) – since January 2019. The city witnessed a 5.5-degree...

Updated: Feb 18, 2020 00:46 IST

By Badri Chatterjee,

At 38.1°C, the city saw its third highest February day temperature in 10 years on Monday and the worst air quality – 281 (poor) – since January 2019. The city witnessed a 5.5-degree rise in maximum temperatures between Sunday and Monday.

Prior to Monday, the highest February day temperature in 10 years was 39.1°C in 2012. The city recorded 38.8°C in 2017 and 2015. The all-time high maximum temperature for the month was 39.6°C in 1966. The high temperatures and low wind speed led to a fall in air quality, with the pollutant-measuring indicator – air quality index (AQI) – at 281 (poor) for PM2.5 pollutant. AQI levels fell to 270 (poor) by evening. PM2.5 is particulate matter less than 2.5 micron size which can easily enter the lungs and cause health ailments.

On Monday, the maximum temperature in south Mumbai was 34.7°C, which was a 3.5 degrees up from Sunday, and almost 5 degrees above normal. “Maharashtra is gradually witnessing a shift in weather conditions as summer approaches. Warm easterly winds, combined with delayed onset of sea breeze (westerlies), as well as high humidity during early hours, have allowed a significant rise in day temperatures,” said KS Hosalikar, deputy director general, western region, India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Humidity levels were high on Monday morning as south Mumbai recorded 92% humidity which dropped to 77% by evening. The suburbs recorded 79% and 46% humidity in the morning and evening.



The weather bureau said similar weather conditions are expected to continue for the next 48 hours at least and the city could get some relief from Thursday. However, this is not a heat wave. According to IMD’s official criteria, a heatwave is declared for coastal regions (like Mumbai) only when the maximum temperature is at least 37°C or 4.5 degrees above normal in two meteorological sub-divisions for two consecutive days.

Akshay Deoras, meteorologist and PhD researcher department of meteorology, University of Reading, UK, said, “Similar hot weather conditions are expected on Tuesday, so people are advised to stay hydrated and take extra precautions while commuting.”

This is the highest air pollution in the city since ‘very poor’ air quality was recorded during the January last year, according to System of Air Quality Weather Forecasting and Research (SAFAR). On December 26, 2019, the AQI was 277, which was the most polluted day for the season prior to Monday.

SAFAR categorises AQI for pollutants in the 0-50 range as good; 51-100 as satisfactory; 101-200 as moderate; 201-300 as poor; 301-400 as very poor and above 400 as severe. PM2.5 concentration on Monday was 115 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3) against the daily safe limit of 60 µg/m3, and concentration for PM10 (larger coarser particles) was 198 µg/m3 against the safe limit of 100 µg/m3. This is the highest particulate matter concentration in Mumbai’s air throughout the season so far.

Five of 10 locations in the city recorded ‘very poor’ air quality on Monday. Navi Mumbai was the most polluted at 347, followed by BKC at 322, Andheri (305), Malad (304), and Mazgaon (301). Borivli, Chembur, Worli and Colaba recorded ‘poor’ AQI. Bhandup had the cleanest air in the city at 148 (moderate). Delhi recorded an overall AQI of 308 (very poor) on Monday.

“There is a spike in local emissions across the city. Weather factors like calm winds and dust being carried by easterlies is allowing the pollutant boundary layer formation closer to the surface,” said Gufran Beig, project director, SAFAR.

Researchers expect air quality will worsen over the next 48 hours. An AQI of 290 (poor) has been predicted for Tuesday.

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