The Celsius hit 40-plus for the first time this year on Friday, bridging six degrees of separation between the start of the week and the weekend to put power-starved Calcutta on course for the cruellest April in a decade.
“This is surely one of the worst starts to April in terms of temperature rise. I have been going through Met records, and I couldn’t find any such instance in the last decade. Unfortunately, the weather could get worse from here,” warned Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.
From a reading of 34.6 degrees last Sunday to 40.1 degrees on Friday, temperatures have risen so fast in the past six days that the weatherman fears there could be dry, heat wave-like conditions over the weekend. “The weather is likely to be hotter and drier over the next couple of days. We are definitely staring at the possibility of a heat wave,” he told Metro.
Heat without humidity, characterised by loo (dry, hot winds) in the afternoon, is unusual for Calcutta. “This kind of heat is more like what Delhi faces,” said Debnath.
A constable of the headquarters traffic guard said he almost passed out while doing duty at the BBD Bag crossing on Friday afternoon. “For those of us on the road, there is no respite. The throat dries up and you feel faint, but you can’t even take a short break if you are posted in a busy area like BBD Bag,” he rued.
Higher Secondary examinee Chandrani Sarkar felt the full impact of 40.1 degrees even while sitting inside a classroom of Behala High School writing her economics paper.
“It was so hot inside that I started feeling dizzy. The teachers and my classmates helped me to a bench closer to the window and brought water and wet towels. I felt better after that,” she said.
What made it worse for the city was that even the minimum temperature on Friday was three notches above normal at 26.7 degrees.
So isn’t there a cloud with a silver lining anywhere on the horizon? “There is little chance of a Nor’wester coming the city’s way in the next one week,” said an official of the India Meteorological Department in New Delhi.
For Nor’westers to occur, moisture in the lower atmosphere over south Bengal has to increase significantly. “An atmospheric formation over the Bay of Bengal would really help as it would bring more moisture over the city and its neighbourhood. The humidity has to be much higher than it is now (Friday’s minimum dipped to 21 per cent) for conditions to be conducive to Nor’westers,” said a senior scientist of the National Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting in Noida.