|Children play at Prinsep Ghat on a windy Monday afternoon. Picture by Sanjoy Chattopadhyaya
The North Wind howls again and the weather office says winter is back, though its February 17.
Winter had followed its traditional routine and bid bye-bye to Calcutta a few days after Saraswati Puja (on February 4), but the stubborn northerly wind refused to quit and aided by a storm from Gujarat forced the cold back on a city that was springing towards early summer. The northerly wind normally dies down by the start of the second week of February.
The minimum temperature on Monday was 17.2 degrees Celsius, a notch below normal. This was recorded in the morning before the wind picked up pace.
By evening, the India Meteorological Department put up on its website that the minimum temperature would slide to 14 degrees on Tuesday and slump to 13 over the next two days. This means, the cold is set to linger.
The Celsius had not dived so low after the January 27-February 4 cold phase.
If the Met office is on the ball, February 20 will be as cold as January 28 when the Celsius read 13 degrees
It is winter in Calcutta, according to the weather benchmark, when the minimum temperature falls below 16 degrees Celsius and stays under that mark for at least four-five days. The forecast for the next few days matches that requirement.
A 13-degree reading could mean a cold wave because the normal minimum based on 30-year data between 1971 and 2000 that the IMD follows is 18 degrees Celsius. A cold wave is declared when the minimum temperature drops five degrees or more below normal.
There was a seven-day period from February 6 to 12 when the minimum temperature had been above normal, including a phase where it reached 20 degrees Celsius, which was four degrees above normal. The wind was blowing from the south instead of the north. That led us to believe that summer was here. As it turns out now, it was a temporary phase, said a Met official in Calcutta.
Weather scientists say the weather will get chillier in Calcutta and its surroundings from Tuesday because of two broad reasons.
n There is no weather system in the vicinity that can lead to moisture incursion from the sea. A Western Disturbance, an anti-cyclonic circulation and a trough of low pressure active over the weekend had either dissipated or moved away.
n Fresh snowfall in the Kashmir valley and Himachal Pradesh will have a bearing on the Celsius in Calcutta. The wind blowing from those snow-covered states is cold.
A meteorological analysis shows that rain and snowfall would continue in short bursts in northern India. Freezing wind rushes in from the Mediterranean. The same wind fly to Calcutta, though it loses some intensity, an expert said.