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Winter hope on sub-16 hat-trick

The Celsius dropped below 16 degrees for the first time this season on Friday as cold winds from the north picked up just enough for the weather office to sight winter.

Nights and early mornings are likely to be cold, if not shiver-inducing, for at least the next three days, in which case Calcutta can officially proclaim: “Yay! Winter is finally here!”

“These are wintry conditions. We expect the minimum temperature to be around 16 degrees Celsius, normal for this period, at least till Monday,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, director of the India Meteorological Department, Calcutta.

On Friday, the minimum temperature was 15.9 degrees Celsius, down from 17.3 degrees on Thursday when the air was filled with excessive moisture that hindered the flow of the cold north wind.

Heat and humidity-harassed Calcuttans, who look forward to winter with the eagerness of a child awaiting a birthday gift, heralded the temperature dip with bright woollens, jackets, mufflers and — yes, you guessed it right — monkey caps!

“The moment I stepped out for my morning jog, I felt the brisk breeze on my skin and knew it was definitely a couple of degrees cooler than yesterday. I went back and put on my jacket,” said 34-year-old Abhrajit Banerjee, a resident of Salt Lake.

If the weather office has got its calculations right, Calcuttans can hope to keep the woollens on for some time.

Till Thursday, meteorologists had thought that a low-pressure area over the Bay of Bengal near the Tamil Nadu coast would travel north and raise temperatures in Calcutta, prolonging the oscillation between warm and cool phases in the prelude to winter.

On Friday, the well-marked low-pressure area became a depression. It is likely to turn into a deep depression and then a cyclonic storm. The good news is that its movement has been so slow that meteorologists think it won’t come close enough to have a bearing on the weather in Calcutta.

“The system could have an effect on Calcutta, if at all, post-Tuesday. Humidity could rise a little because of the moisture incursion caused by the system, though its effect will be short-lived,” the official added.

Winter is said to have arrived in Calcutta after three consecutive days of the minimum temperature staying at 16 degrees or below, the maximum at 28 degrees or below and the summation of maximum and minimum relative humidity at 140 per cent or lower.

These conditions were fulfilled for the first time this season on Friday with the maximum temperature going below 28 degrees for the first time this month. The Alipore reading was 27.2 degrees Celsius, a notch below normal.

Maximum relative humidity of 81 per cent and a minimum of 42 per cent also met the criteria for winter, as did the minimum temperature of 15.9 degrees.

“All these parameters are likely to remain more or less the same for three days, which is why we are saying that winter is almost here,” said a scientist at IMD, Calcutta.