Police chief Surajit Kar Purkayastha (front) walks on a wooden ramp over the wet ground at the Mohammed Ali Park puja pandal on Tuesday. Picture by Bibhash Lodh
An atmospheric low pressure hovering over the coast is set to keep Puja shoppers and idol-makers on the edge for another day even after 100mm of rainfall over the past few days.
Monsoon’s late surge has overstayed its welcome and weather experts on Tuesday spelt out the ominous: a wet Wednesday. They warned of heavy rain in Gangetic Bengal for the next 24 hours, meaning it’s going to pour as much as 64mm if not more.
The system is expected to weaken upon landfall and the skies will clear up “in the second half” of Thursday, the forecast says.
A brief respite on Monday evening raised hopes but sporadic rain continued through the night and all of Tuesday, making it the fifth consecutive day of rainfall after a six-day dry spell in September.
“We had initially expected the low-pressure area to hit the Bengal-Odisha coast on Monday and move further into land. But it so happened that the system lost pace and hovered around the coast,” said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department.
If it had continued its journey towards Jharkhand as expected, the moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal would have lessened. Now with the system still near the sea, moisture-laden air is continuing to flow. “Hence, the rain has not stopped,” a weather expert said.
Most Calcuttans are more than miffed because the constant shower is getting in the way of their shopping. Idol-makers at Kumartuli are the worst hit and so are artisans fixing the pandals with various themes.
Artisans have been forced to use kerosene-guzzler flame lamps, pedestal fans and invest on tarpaulin sheets to dry and save the idols from rain.
“An idol can be dried with a flame in 10 to 12 hours but the process guzzles about 25litres of kerosene. Our costs have shot up,” an artisan had said.
“The monsoon has been generous but now it’s time for it to go. I got drenched and struggled to get a taxi every time I went shopping the past few days,” said Antara Basu, 32, of New Alipore.
The current spell of rain, starting Friday, has recorded as much as 108.6mm at the Alipore observatory.
The highest of this period was on Monday when the city received 40.1mm of rain, followed by Tuesday’s 33.3mm.
The silver lining though has been a tamed mercury because of the wet weather after it touched 36 degrees Celsius on September 25 during the dry spell. Apart from being hot, high humidity has raised the discomfort index to an unbearable level.
The discomfort index had been seven to eight degrees above the comfort level during that period.
As it had rained every single day since then, the maximum had slumped to 28 degrees — five notches below normal — on Monday. Tuesday’s was 29.5 degrees, still four degrees below normal.
The forecast says 32 degrees on Thursday when the clouds give way to the sun.