The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has warned that the maximum (day) temperature will be above normal by 2-4 degrees Celsius in four districts in Kerala on Friday. These districts are Thiruvananthapuram (comprising the state capital), Alappuzha and Kottayam.
This prompted the Kerala State Disaster Management Authority (KSDMA) to advise pregnant women, the elderly and children to avoid direct sunlight between 11 AM and 3 PM. It is advisable to drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration.
People should also make it a practice to carry drinking water with them in small bottles. Wearing loose, light-coloured cotton clothing will help combat the heat better.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Labour Department had rescheduled working hours for labourers, banning outdoor work between 12 noon and 3 PM.
This temperature rise is in line with a trend emerging over the last few years when the south-western-most state, and the gateway of the monsoon, heats up well before others and even setting up heat waves. February has already seen maximum temperatures going well past the 30-degrees-Celsius mark at many places in the State.
Among the listed districts mentioned above, Kottayam, the home of plantations in central Kerala, has been consistently recording a maximum temperature beyond 35 degrees Celsius, even peaking to 37 degrees Celsius over the past couple of days.
The national office of the IMD, New Delhi, indicated that Kottayam may record 37 degrees Celsius on Saturday, too, before settling down only a degree lower (36 degrees Celsius) and staying as such into the next week (until February 20).
Above-normal temperatures (up by 1.6-3.0 degree Celsius) have also been warned for the rest of the South Peninsula, including Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and South Interior Karnataka.
Elevated temperatures and humidity might spark isolated showers over East and extreme South Peninsular India (parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala) from February 19 to 21, an extended outlook of the IMD, New Delhi, said.
Mahesh Palawat, Vice-President at private forecaster Skymet Weather, said that dry weather and clear skies along with winds blowing from inland (South and East) have been responsible for the elevated temperatures at Kottayam in Kerala. Summer has arrived over both Kerala and Karnataka while the weather over the plains of North India is migrating from winter to spring.
Bloggers in Chennai pitched in with their assessment of the summer onset in the South.