May is the hottest month for Chennai with the mean maximum temperature for the city observatory at Nungambakkam being 37.1°C and for the Airport observatory at Meenambakkam being 37.4°C . In comparison June is marginally lesser with 37.0°C and 37.3°C being the mean maximum temperature for respective observatories. With the hottest month behind us its time to do a review of how this year fared and whether did we see any abnormality in comparison with the last few years.
Most of us remember on May 18th Chennai Airport observatory recorded the hottest May day since 2003 when it recorded 43.6°C. While one could consider the hottest day as an indicator of how the summer panned out but we have opted to used the following criteria to understand how the year was
- Average Maximum Temperature for the month which would eliminate abnormal individual day spikes and give a much complete picture
- No of days when temperatures crossed 40°C. IMD categorizes anything above 40°C as a hot day
- No of Straight 40°C days which will indicate how persistent the Hot Days Conditions prevailed
2017 May has seen Chennai Meenambakkam record its hottest summer since 2012 with the average maximum temperature for the month settling at 39.3°C just short of the “Hot Day” mark as classified by IMD. While 2017 saw the hottest day in 15 years 2012 and 2008 was far worse summers for Chennai & suburbs with both years seeing average maximum temperature of above 40°C. Interestingly in the last 17 years only 3 years have seen the average maximum temperature settle lower than the long term Mean Maximum temperature for the Airport Observatory indicating the long term warming trend.
If one were to analyse the hot days for the year 2017 we have seen a spike in number of hot days since 2012 possibly indicating a mini cool period for Chennai & suburbs during 2013 – 2016. Incidentally this period was a quiet period in terms of bay cyclone with 2013 seeing a weak Cyclone Viyaru develop during May and 2016 seeing Cyclone Roanu kissing the Chennai coast on its way further up north giving heavy rains to Chennai. Is there a connection between the two? Chennai Weather Bloggers firmly believe in that connection, we leave the rest.
If one were to analyse both the charts its pretty obvious 2008 was a different league in terms of heat during May over Chennai and suburbs. 21 days when temperature has crossed 40°C of which 12 days have been continuous making it the undisputed hottest summer since the turn of Millennium for Chennai Airport.
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