CHENNAI: Social media has been abuzz this week with ominous messages warning against stepping out during peak hours, as there is a heat wave caused by the equinox phenomenon. While experts say this astronomical event, which happens during March and September when the sun crosses the equator, does impact weather, but they rubbish the scare–mongering on social media.
“Please stay indoors, especially from 12pm-3pm daily. This (equinox) can easily cause dehydration and sun stroke. This is due to the sun directly positioned above the equator line,” read the hoax message in part. Officials said the message is misleading and grossly exaggerated.
Speaking to City Express, B S Thampi, deputy director general, RMC, said, “The messages doing the rounds, where they talk about temperatures shooting up to 40°C in the next few days, are untrue,” he states. “Yes, equinox will be one of the factors because of the sun’s movement. The sun is presently moving onwards to the northern hemisphere (where we are located) from the southern hemisphere and hence there will be an increase in temperature.”
S R Ramanan, director, ACW, has termed the message a ‘misadventure’ from uninformed persons. “The equinox happens every March. The primary cause for rise in temperatures is because of clear skies and radiation from the sun’s rays is more. If we have clouds, the effect of the rays would be less,” explains Ramanan.
Popular weather blogger Pradeep John, said the equinox is an astronomical event and doesn’t have any significant impact on temperature levels. The rise in temperatures is caused by the movement of dry westerly winds, he adds.
The interior regions have borne the brunt of the heat wave, with Salem and Karur recording the first 40°C of the year in the State. The dry westerly winds are expected to further push up the temperature in the coming days. City-based expert on astronomy, A Prabhakaran, said that equinox occurs when the sun crosses the celestial equator — the imaginary line in the sky above the equator — from north to south. “It has negligible effect on temperatures. The equinox in March is known as the Vernal (spring) equinox in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere, it’s known as the Autumnal (fall) equinox.
- Equinox is an astronomical event that occurs when the sun crosses the equator
- Happens twice a year, around March 20 and September 23
- Day and night will be of almost equal duration
- March equinox, also called vernal equinox, usually marks the beginning of spring in many countries
- September equinox marks the beginning of autumn
TIPS TO BEAT HEAT
- Loss of electrolytes causes tiredness and dizziness. The best way to retain fluid in the body is to take tender coconut or butter milk with salt
- To block UV rays, use an umbrella, wear sunglasses and ensure that you wear loose cotton clothes
- Have a cold bath twice a day
- Eat foods that are rich in anti-oxidants: they help in regeneration of sweat glands