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Oooooooooh! It’s real cold
Neighbour’s North Wind, Bengal’s bane

Monday was cold — and there’s nothing unofficial about it. Maximum temperature: 15.7 degrees Celsius, 11 degrees below normal and the lowest in five years.

The figures told the facts on Monday as the city shivered through its first official “cold day” of the season. In meteorological terms, a day is declared “cold” only when the maximum temperature dips below the 16 degrees Celsius mark. “Even during the cold wave last January, the maximum temperature had not dipped so low,” a spokesperson at the Alipore Meteorological Office confirmed.

The minimum temperature, meanwhile, stood at 11.4 degrees, two degrees below normal at Alipore, while at Dum Dum it was 11.3 degrees. The minimum is likely to remain the same the day the city sits glued to the final day’s play in the Sydney summer.

K.K. Chakraborty, director of the weather section at Alipore, signalled no let-up in the prevailing chill until the cold wave abated in Bihar, Jharkhand and other states up north.

“The maximum temperature is not rising as there is virtually no sunlight. Also, a cold wave is sweeping Bihar, Jharkhand and others areas in the northern parts of the country. We think the present condition will continue till the cold wave mellows,” observed Chakraborty.

On Monday, Patna recorded a minimum temperature of 4.9 degrees Celsius, while Ranchi was 4.8 degrees.

According to the weatherman, Calcutta and the districts had been in the grip of a cold wave that lasted for almost two weeks from January 10, 2003. On January 22 last year, the minimum temperature had slid to 9.3 degrees Celsius.

“But even then, the maximum temperature had hovered between 19 degrees and 22 degrees Celsius. On January 15, 2003, the minimum temperature had plummeted to 9.4 degrees but the maximum temperature had remained 22 degrees Celsius. The maximum temperature has not crashed so low in the past five years,” an official clarified.

A number of nursery and Montessori schools in town that had opened after the winter vacations on Monday, decided to slam the gates shut on the North Wind for another week. “Parents called up to say it was difficult to get the children to school by 8 am. So we declared the school shut for another week,” said Neelakshi Shukla, principal of Beginners Montessori House, in Lake Town.

At the airport, things brightened, with no delay in flights due to fog being reported. But at Howrah and Sealdah, the scenario was quite bleak, with railway officials complaining that the fog this year was “thicker than in previous years”.

The Up Janata Express was cancelled. Kalka Mail, Amritsar Express and Howrah-Kathgodam Bagh Express had to be rescheduled, according to officials. The New Delhi-Howrah Rajdhani arrived three hours late, while Poorva came in two-and-a-half hours late. The Kalka Mail reached Howrah six hours behind schedule and Amritsar Mail was late by 12 hours. Doon Express and Toofan Express reached Howrah 10 hours and six-and-a-half hours late, respectively.

Both Mumbai Mail via Allahabad and Jodhpur Express arrived five-and-a-half hours late. Jammu Tawi Express reached Sealdah four-and-a-half hours late. Local trains, too, ran half an hour late on Monday morning.

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