A cyclonic circulation lurking in the Bay gained strength to become a low-pressure area and moved closer to the coast, bringing start-stop-start showers that slowed down shopping but couldn’t beat the Calcuttan’s spirit on the last Sunday before Mahalaya.
For those who didn’t step out thinking they would make up for the loss of a Sunday with some shopping on Monday, there is bad news. Satellite pictures show fluffs of white over the city that Met officials believe will sustain heavy rain over the next 24 hours.
“A cyclonic circulation in the northern part of Bay of Bengal has been bringing sporadic rainfall to the city for the last week or so. But on Sunday night, it intensified into a low-pressure area and the moisture incursion from sea to land increased because of it. As a result, more rain-bearing clouds formed and there was intermittent rainfall throughout the day,” said a senior official at the Regional Met Office in Alipore.
“The heavy-rainfall warning will remain till Monday evening, when the system is likely to hit land and weaken thereafter,” he added.
Sunday was overcast since morning, the rain ranging from a drizzle to a downpour with gaps in between. But hardly an hour went by without some rain.
The total rainfall was more or less evenly distributed throughout the city during the day, although it rained at different times at different places.
The spell between 1 and 3pm was the heaviest of the day with most places averaging 20mm. Topsia topped the rain gauge with 25mm and Jodhpur Park received the least amount at 12mm, based on the readings at drainage pumping stations of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation.
The Alipore weather office recorded 13.3mm of rain while the observatory at Dum Dum recorded 20mm in 24 hours till 5.30pm on Sunday.
In Gariahat, the swell of shoppers matched the increasing intensity of the rain. Shoppers holding colourful umbrellas and shopping bags clogged the Gariahat connector in the afternoon. Cops deployed at the crossing struggled to keep them off the carriageway despite putting up barricades.
Raincoats and umbrellas competed with garments in the Sunday sales charts. “Looks like it may rain even during Puja. So, I bought a colourful raincoat along with new clothes,” said Vaishali Sinha, a Class XII student.
At South City Mall and City Centre Salt Lake, the wet weather increased the footfall inside. “I had planned to shop at Dakshinapan but when it began raining heavily, I got off an auto at South City and did my shopping there. I had to buy a lot of things but didn’t want to get drenched,” said Priyanka Das, a resident of Behala.
By evening, the queue of shoppers waiting to enter the mall had reached the footpath. The wait to park a car was as long as the time spent outside packed trial rooms and in front of cash counters.
“To buy a pair of jeans I had to wait outside the trial room for 20 minutes and another 20 minutes at the cash counter,” said Riya Dutta, a student at Asutosh College.
In the New Market shopping zone, people were seen rushing into restaurants and stalls to grab a bite when the rain became heavier and step out when it eased. The nearby KFC and Domino’s outlets were among the most crowded places during the heaviest spells of rain. Ditto the tea and snack joints.
Renu Pandey, a mother of two, would have liked to shop at New Market and Gariahat but opted for City Centre Salt Lake because it would be easier for her to manage with kids in a mall.
Krittika Chowdhury, a student spotted walking down north Calcutta’s Hatibagan market in the drizzle, was carrying an umbrella but couldn’t use it because she had shopping bags in both hands!
If there was one benefit because of the rain, it was the maximum temperature dipping below 30 degrees Celsius for the first time since September 2, when the city had received 41.9mm of rain.
By Sunday evening, the September count stood at 306.5mm. The normal aggregate for the month is 312.5mm. “There has been significant rain in patches and dry periods, too,” a Met official said.
Calcuttans would be hoping October 11 to 14 is one such dry period.