The rumour mongers are at it once again – spreading fear and panic in Chennai and other parts of Tamil Nadu. The latest viral WhatsApp message doing the rounds warns of temperatures rising to 45-48 degrees Celsius.
The hoax reads, “Tamilnadu government has issued ‘Red Alert’ for 3 days. Mean temperature will be between 45.1 to 48.5 Celsius. Please drink 6-7 litres of water a day. Avoid going out in open sun from 11am to 4pm.”
But fear not, Chennai, this ‘red alert’ is fake and while the dog days are here, it is highly unlikely that the temperature will peak to such levels.
The Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has issued a heat wave warning to Chennai and 19 other districts of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry for Tuesday and requested collectors to take necessary action. However, as per IMD’s forecast, based on observations recorded at 8.30am on Tuesday, Chennai Nungambakkam will see a maximum temperature of 38.9 degrees C while Chennai AP (Meenambakkam) will see a high of 42.2 degrees C.
Weather blogger, Tamil Nadu Weatherman took to Facebook urging residents to not fall for the WhatsApp rumour. He pointed out, “Chennai City will struggle to cross 40 C today as sea breeze is expected to set in early, just like yesterday, when sea breeze set in around 11.30 am. Even though it may not cross 40 C, it is still called a Heat Wave.” He also noted that the highest temperature Chennai has recorded till date is 45 degrees C in May 2003.
Interior parts of Tamil Nadu, however, will see temperatures cross 40 degrees C, and Vellore is expected to be the hottest place in the state at 43.5 degrees C.
Incidentally, a heatwave is a period of abnormally high temperature, as compared to the average temperatures for that time of the year. According to the IMD, a heatwave is declared only when the temperature of a station reaches at least 40 degrees C for plains and 30 degrees C for hill regions. A heatwave warning is issued by the Met Department when the temperature rises higher than 5-6 degrees C above normal, while a severe heat wave is 7 degrees C more than the normal maximum temperature.