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Just chill till the cold wind lasts

If you have been wondering whether winter has set in early this year, the answer is blowin’ in the north-westerly wind.

A gusty breeze has plunged the mercury to its lowest ever in a decade for this time of the year, making Calcuttans rush for extra cover after sundown over the past two days.

The minimum temperature dropped to 17.8 degrees Celsius, two notches below normal, on Tuesday and remained unchanged on Wednesday to set the stage for at least another four days of early chill.

The Celsius had dipped to 18 degrees this early only twice previously in the past 10 years. The 17-degree mark is a record (See chart).q

The average minimum temperature between November 1 and 13 was 20.1 degrees Celsius, a nick below the past decade’s aggregate of 21.3.

“I felt a chill in the car as a cold breeze blew in while returning home from office around 1.30am on Monday. I was shivering and longed for warm clothes. The driver rolled up the window and I realised everyone was feeling the bite,” said 26-year-old Anwesha Bramha, who works for a Salt Lake Sector V company.

Tweeter @sugopa summed up the chill factor: “With the slight dip in the Mercury, we snuggle in the shaal muri.. #winter...”

So is it time to get the woollens out, sun the quilt and pack off the summery dresses?

Not yet, say weather experts. “It’s too early to say that the winter has set in before its scheduled arrival in the second week of December,”a senior Met official said.

“The current conditions will hold for another four days or so. Winter is declared in Calcutta only when the minimum temperature reaches 16 degrees Celsius and the minimum relative humidity hovers at 28 per cent.”

Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the India Meteorological Department in Calcutta, said one must look northward for the answer to the nippy conditions here. “Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh have received early snowfall this year and the wind is blowing from there.”

The prevalence of perfect atmospheric conditions in the country’s eastern parts has given the wind full and free entry to the city.

“When it snowed in the Himalayas last week and cool winds started blowing towards Calcutta, the relative humidity in the city was quite low. This allowed the wind to blow freely and people felt the nip in the air,” Debnath said.

“The wind speed and volume increased on Tuesday because a low-pressure area near the Andamans has intensified into a depression. It sucked in the cold wind from the north,” he added.

The nip caught Abhinash Mitra, 41-year-old trader from Entally, by surprise when he got down from his car at the Maidan for his morning jog on Tuesday. “I cut my run short fearing I might catch a cold. The open Maidan is always colder than the rest of the city,” he said and promised to return next morning in warmer clothes.

There could be more surprises in store for Mitra because the sub-18 temperature of the past couple of nights might give way to gloomy weather with clouds flying in from the Bay of Bengal depression.

Weather scientists said overcast skies would push up the mercury unless it rained — an unlikely proposition under the current conditions because the main mass of the Bay depression would hit the Tamil Nadu coast, not the Bengal shoreline.

But the moisture in the air would obstruct the north-westerly wind and jack up the Celsius to around 20 degrees by Sunday.

Till such time, just chill!