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Santa, bring chill as gift

- Warmest December 21 in 9 years, hope for Xmas

Calcutta, Dec. 21: Many Calcuttans want just one gift from Santa this Christmas, a drop in the mercury.

With Christmas just four days away, the minimum temperature today was five notches above normal at 18.6 degrees Celsius, the warmest December 21 since 2004. (See chart)

In summer, if the minimum is above normal by five degrees or more, the conditions are categorised as “hot day”.

As the party season takes off, the city’s hip, young revellers fear that a continuation of the warm spell could necessitate a last-minute change of wardrobe.

The Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore, however, held out hope for Christmas, saying the temperature could dip in the next two days and reach 14 degrees Celsius by December 25.

Christmas would be “lousy” for Loreto House alumna and baker Rituparna Mukherjee, 29, if she cannot attend Midnight Mass at her alma mater wearing earmuffs and her favourite Louis Vuitton jacket.

Today, like the past few days, was warm and substantially humid, with very little sunshine during the day.

The maximum temperature was normal, at 27.3 degrees Celsius, but the relatively high humidity — between 52 and 92 per cent — ensured beads of sweat every now and then. The minimum humidity during this time of the year usually stays below 40 per cent.

The weatherman attributed the phenomenon to the impact of a high-pressure belt over coastal Odisha and adjoining Bengal, which has resulted in a higher-than-normal moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal into the atmosphere over the city.

Arijit Sen, a 29-year-old chief technology officer with an IT start-up, said the weather had robbed the festive season of much of its joy this year.

“It’s December 21 and I’m still going out in a tee and shorts. If the weather doesn’t improve by Christmas, I will be very disappointed,” said Sen, who spent several hot Christmases in Melbourne as a postgraduate student at Monash University.

Twenty-eight-year-old sports marketing professional Ruru Chowdhury, who has spent the last couple of Christmases enjoying snowfall in Sheffield, England, was looking forward to a decent chill in his hometown this year so he could layer up and party hard. But the weather so far has disappointed him.

“I hosted a party at my place last night and we were actually sweating at midnight. The fans had to be switched on. I can’t remember such a humid spell during this time of the year,” Chowdhury said.

The high humidity has not only restricted the flow of the cold, dry North Wind, the principal agent of chill in winter, but has also generated a cloud cover that has insulated the city from chilly nights.

“The high-pressure system will gradually dissipate over the next 48 hours. So the weather ought to normalise within two days,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, director of the Regional Meteorological Centre at Alipore.

“Christmas Day, if not Christmas Eve, should be cold enough for the city. The minimum temperature should sink to 14 degrees or thereabouts by then,” he added.

Whether everyone in Calcutta will be happy with 14 is another question.

Officials of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the last week of 2013 was likely to remain sufficiently cold for Calcutta.