The city broke out in a sweat with winter taking on the garb of summer on Tuesday — the decade’s highest minimum January temperature of 21.6 degrees Celsius, humidity of 96 per cent and power cuts.
“Going by the available data, Tuesday was the warmest January day in the past 10 years,” confirmed G.C. Debnath, the director of the weather section at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.
Met officials blamed the weak North Wind for temperatures heading northwards. “The minimum temperature has been a few notches above normal even in central India. We do not expect much change in the weather conditions over the next 48 hours,” Debnath said.
The city has not experienced anything resembling the chill factor the whole of winter. The first couple of weeks of December were the warmest in five decades.
The last winter day in Calcutta when the mercury touched 21.6 degrees Celsius was on December 29, 2003. But that was the maximum temperature, not the minimum. Eight degrees of separation marked Tuesday’s reading and the normal minimum temperature for a late-January day.
Debnath said temperatures could drop once the anti-cyclonic circulation over the Bengal coastline weakened. “The anti-cyclonic circulation is sucking in moisture from the sea and the North Wind is not blowing in as it should. These two factors have led to an increase in the minimum temperature.”
As temperatures shot up, the scourge of summer — power cuts — returned to torment the city. The peak-hour shortfall on Tuesday was 81 MW and most localities faced power cuts for between 30 and 40 minutes in the evening. “The peak-hour requirement surged to 1,200 MW on Tuesday. If the weather remains as warm as it has been in the past few days, power cuts will continue in the evenings,” a CESC official said.
The warm-winter syndrome has also triggered diseases that are common in summer. “The rise in temperature is responsible for the outbreak of viral fever and gastroenteritis. Hospitals and clinics have been flooded with patients suffering from cold and cough, fever, diarrhoea and other summer diseases,” critical care expert Subrata Maitra said.
“We have had to also tackle an outbreak of chicken pox, which is usually common in March and April.”