|Ground staff at the Eden Gardens race against the rain to cover the turf after the Nor’wester hit town on Tuesday evening, washing out the Kolkata Knight Riders’ home match against the Deccan Chargers; (below) spectators robbed of an evening’s T20 entertainment make their way through slush on their way back home from the Eden. Pictures by Anindya Shankar Ray and Bishwarup Dutta
Heat-struck Calcutta received its first Nor’wester in more than a fortnight on Tuesday evening, the relief from the heavens coinciding with Akshay Tritiya that marks Ganga’s descent on earth in the form of a river.
The rain ruined the Shah Rukh Khan-led IPL shindig at the Eden Gardens and robbed his Kolkata Knight Riders of a precious point ahead of matches against tougher opposition, but few except those stranded at the ground were complaining.
The previous two weeks had been oppressively hot with humidity fluctuating wildly to add to the discomfort of Calcuttans, many of whom might have contemplated consulting the neighbourhood astrologer rather than the weatherman on when it would finally rain.
Come the rain did, in a short-lived torrent from the Chhotanagpur Plateau around 7.50pm that left the Eden Gardens in a shambles and parts of the city waterlogged in quick time. The Ranchi Met office confirmed it was a Nor’wester originating near Bankura with wind speed peaking at 74kmph in the city.
The weatherman attributed the storm to a low-pressure trough in south Bengal that intensified as the day progressed.
“Under the influence of the system, humidity surged from the high 30s to the 70s in a span of four hours from 3pm. The trough sucked in moisture from the Bay of Bengal and helped form thunderclouds over the city and other parts of south Bengal. Rain triggered by such conditions is usually fierce but short-lived,” a Met official said.
The rain did not last beyond 8.20pm — in parts of the city, it receded even earlier — but its effect was felt not just in a four-degree drop in the Celsius but also a trail of uprooted trees, flooded streets, power cuts and traffic snarls.
For around an hour from 8pm, eastbound traffic from the AJC Bose Road flyover had to be diverted from Park Circus through Sealdah and Beleghata because of waterlogging in and around Dargah Road and the approach to the Bypass.
The Calcutta Municipal Corporation said three trees were uprooted in and around Kalighat and one along Beadon Street in north Calcutta. Streets were waterlogged till around 9pm, including parts of the BBD Bag-Raj Bhavan area, Thanthania, College Street, Ballygunge and Paikpara.
Although CESC officials said there was no disruption in supply because of the Nor’wester, power cuts were reported from parts of Ballygunge, Jadavpur, Gariahat, Golpark, Girish Park, Kankurgachhi and Lake Town for around an hour from 8pm.
“The rain was welcome, though not the power cut it triggered. Supply was restored in our neighbourhood only after 9pm,” said Chandreyi Basu, a 25-year-old resident of Raja Subodh Chandra Mullick Road.
Local train services in the Sealdah division were affected with a flying banner lodging itself in the overhead wire network near Naihati station during the storm. Trains did not ply in the main line beyond Naihati from 6.15pm, when the storm hit the suburbs.
More rain is forecast on Wednesday but relief from the heat won’t last long, warned the weatherman.
“After a spell or two of thundershowers on Tuesday and Wednesday, we expect a lull for a few days. The moderate rainfall these thunderclouds bring will not provide lasting comfort, I am afraid,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore.
Deboleena Mookerjea, a 24-year-old resident of Wellington Square, was among those who made the most of the respite that came on Tuesday evening.
“It rained after so, so long. I was at home with three of my friends when it started pouring. We went up to the terrace and got soaked,” recounted Deboleena.
Those who were at the Eden Gardens to support the Knight Riders and catch a glimpse of Shah Rukh and the other celebrities, of course, had a different story to tell.
Nepal Halder, who came all the way from Canning, said: “It takes me more than two hours to reach my home from Sealdah. I don’t know how I will get back home in this weather. I might have to stay at a friend’s place nearby.”
Park Circus resident Niaz Ahmed was at the ground for his first IPL match, accompanied by eight-year-old daughter Nuhi. “What a waste! The rain spoiled our evening,” he rued.
Tuesday’s celebrity list at the Eden had included KKR co-owner Juhi Chawla and Bappi Lahiri along with Tolly director Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury and actors Jeet and Jisshu.
Before the rain came, the maximum temperature had risen to five notches above normal at 39.6 degrees Celsius. The minimum was also a point above normal at 27.5 degrees Celsius.
heard in the stands
● Since I am here, I want the match to happen. Had I not been here, I would’ve enjoyed the rain. More so because tomorrow I have an outdoor shoot with Shakib (Al Hasan) and the downpour has definitely cooled things down.
Aniruddha Roy Chowdhury, film-maker
● I am not even thinking about the heat! I want the match to happen.
● We (he and Jeet) were both on Red Road and were turning back but when we came to know that the rain had stopped, we called each other up and decided to come. Even if the match starts at 11pm, we will still be here!