Monsoon is set to do a mango this year — make a delayed arrival and play hard-to-get for a couple of weeks before hitting the city with full force.
“The Bay of Bengal arm of the monsoon was relatively weak till Friday, which means monsoon could be late by a day or two and remain dormant for the first few weeks after its entry into south Bengal,” an official of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told Metro from Delhi.
The rains usually arrive in north Bengal by June 5 and hit the city and its neighbourhood by June 8. Last year’s monsoon was late by five days but made up for it with average rainfall in the city over the next few weeks even as the rest of south Bengal faced a near-drought.
Monsoon 2009 had arrived a fortnight ahead of schedule on the wings of Cyclone Aila but stayed dormant for over a month, making it the driest rainy season since 1972.
The signs of a delayed arrival this year are there in the swelter, although high humidity is a common feature of the days leading to the first monsoon shower.
The weather in the city over the last few days has been sultry with the average daytime humidity hovering above 90 per cent in the afternoon. Short spells of light rain have done little to restore comfort.
“The past five or six days have been very uncomfortable and a severe cold has made it worse. I can’t wait for the rains to arrive,” said 32-year-old telecom professional Anushma Goswami, spoilt by a squall-laced first half of summer.
Friday’s maximum temperature was normal at 36.4 degrees Celsius but a humidity range of 55-92 per cent made the weather look and feel more oppressive than it was.
“The moisture content of the atmosphere is increasing as we progress towards monsoon. There will be little respite over the next few days, barring sporadic rain in some areas,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.
According to the weatherman, the weak Bay of Bengal factor in this year’s monsoon current was an anomaly. “For the first time since 1984, the Arabian Sea arm of the monsoon is stronger than that of the Bay of Bengal at this early phase,” an IMD official said.
The monsoon flow through the Bay of Bengal decides how much rainfall the city will receive in a season and at what time.
Monsoon hit Kerala on May 29. By Friday, the northern limit of monsoon — an imaginary line depicting its northernmost frontier — had passed Vengurla in Maharashtra, Belgaum and Gadag in Karnataka, and Anantapur and Nellore in Andhra Pradesh (see chart).
Karwar in Karnataka received over 180mm of rain on Friday, the highest in the country this year.
A senior weather scientist said monsoon’s delayed arrival in Bengal would not affect the health of the season in the state. “The long-range forecast is of a normal amount of rainfall over south Bengal through the season.”
Since March, every spell of oppressive weather has been followed by a thundershower or a couple of hours of rain, enough to keep the Celsius down for two to three days. By the end of May, the city had received 17 such spells of rain, the highest in over two decades.