Calcutta woke up to the coldest and haziest day of the season on Sunday with the sun going into hiding and the chill-laden north wind keeping the Celsius down to a maximum of 16.3 degrees, 11 notches below normal.
“If it doesn’t get cold now, when will it?” Tolly actor Abir Chatterjee quipped, looking forward to “about 10-12 days of proper winter”.
Word from the Met office is that Santa has granted his (and many other Calcuttans’) wish.
Sunday’s minimum temperature was 12 degrees Celsius, a notch below Saturday’s, and the forecast is for similar weather till at least Christmas.
“Calcutta is feeling like Darjeeling at the moment. There is the chill and that feeling of moistness in the air. My pillow was damp when I woke up this morning,” said 15-year-old Rupsa Chowdhury of Kaikhali, near the airport.
Actress Swastika Mukherjee felt so cold after a look test on a terrace that she was “reminded of London” and forced to “put on the car heater for the first time in Calcutta”.
“I have never seen fog at Southern Avenue at 3pm and then people so layered up in the afternoon on Park Street! But nothing seemed adequate to beat the chill,” Swastika said.
The cold and damp “hill-station feeling” was the result of a combination of factors. First was the layer of fog triggered by a western disturbance near Jammu and Kashmir that disintegrated five days ago. The fog blocked the sun’s rays from reaching the surface, keeping temperatures low.
“The snowfall in parts of northern India, over which the northerly wind passed before hitting Calcutta, made the wind so chilly,” said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department in Delhi.
A cyclonic circulation over Bangladesh apparently gave the Sunday weather its special character. “The system was at the right distance to facilitate incursion of moisture without impeding the cold,” the official said.
Dinesh Kumar Tandon, 58, of FD Block in Salt Lake was among those who sampled the chill when most people were still in bed on the second-last Sunday of the year. The rector of Miranda House said he had difficulty driving as the windshield of his car would become foggy every couple of minutes.
Around 7.30am, children at a tennis coaching camp in south Calcutta seemed busier trying to perfect their vapour rings than their forehand.
At a cricket coaching camp in Salt Lake, a third of the batch of 300 did not turn up in the morning.
Many said they could not recall the last time Calcutta had such a cold and bleak December day. Last year, the minimum temperature on December 21 was lower than Sunday’s at 11.4 degrees but the maximum was much higher at 21.2 degrees.
The minimum temperature last Christmas was 11.9 degrees Celsius.
The city could be swathed in fog over the next couple of days, according to Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Alipore weather office.