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10,234 days on, 10 again
Celsius in freefall, city on chill high

The last time a December day in Calcutta was colder than Thursday was 10,234 days ago.

A groggy Arijit Banerjee may not have been in the mood for comparative meteorological statistics first thing on a chilly morning, but he knew Wednesday’s record of the lowest temperature this season had been broken the moment his feet met the marble floor of his bedroom.

“The floor was so cold that I was certain the temperature had dropped overnight,” said 33-year-old Arijit, a resident of Ultadanga.

The 10 degrees recorded in Alipore at 5.30am were one-tenth of a Celsius more than the 9.9 reading at the same location on December 21, 1984. But the Celsius count doesn’t quite say how cold Calcutta felt.

In Ballygunge, barely 5km from Alipore, the weather RSS feed on an early riser’s iPhone showed the real-time temperature at 6am to be 9 degrees Celsius. In the north, the weather gauge at the airport Met office displayed 8.6 degrees in Dum Dum at 5.30am.

Many Calcuttans greeted the extra chill like tourists in Darjeeling would the season’s first snowfall. “It is getting colder by the day. How wonderful! Now is the chance to flaunt our winter wardrobes,” trilled Sagarika Dutta Gupta, 23, of Lake Gardens.

Weather scientists say atmospheric conditions are favourable for a further drop in temperatures. Thursday’s minimum reading was four degrees below normal and 1.5 lower than the previous day’s lowest temperature of 11.5.

Five degrees below normal would put the city in the cold-wave category along with Bankura, Birbhum, Purulia, West Midnapore and Burdwan. “The forecast for Friday is a minimum of around 10 degrees Celsius. The Celsius could go even lower before rising a little over the weekend,” an official of the India Meteorological Department said.

The all-time record of the lowest December temperature in Calcutta is 7.2 degrees Celsius on December 22, 1966.

The current cold spell since last Sunday is the outcome of snowfall in the northern altitudes and the unhindered passage of the northwesterly wind. “As of now, there is no weather system such as a cyclonic circulation or a high-pressure belt to aid the incursion of moisture from the sea and block the north wind,” the official said.

The December mist has apparently played a role in keeping the maximum temperature down, resulting in uniformly cold days. Thursday’s maximum reading was 18.2 degrees, eight notches below normal.

January has historically been the coldest month in Calcutta, so rest assured that winter is just warming up.