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Winter retreat under a cloud

Winter is retreating reluctantly after an extended stay, leaving a window open for a possible return.

The weekend will be warm but meteorologists are not certain which way the Celsius will swing during the week ahead.

The forecast says Calcuttans should brace for the minimum temperature to increase from 14.9 degrees Celsius on Friday, three degrees below normal, to 19 degrees over the weekend with the advent of a high-pressure belt from the Bay of Bengal.

The pressure building up over the Bay will block the cold North Wind.

The experts have also sniffed a rain-bearing cyclonic circulation — stretching from Gujarat to Uttar Pradesh — looming on the horizon. The system is moving east and may bring rain to Calcutta early next week.

If it pours like it did last Sunday, expect the mercury to plummet again.

“The cyclonic circulation may bring rain to Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh this weekend. In case it moves further east, Bengal and parts of the Northeast will get drenched on Monday,” said an official of the India Meteorological Department, Delhi.

Meteorologists said fresh snowfall in Jammu and Kashmir would extend Calcutta’s date with the northerly wind, which normally withers out around this time of the year.

The wind had lost its sting after the first week of this month but the Sunday shower reinvigorated its flow and slapped the chill back on the city as it recorded the coldest February 18 in more than a decade at 13 degrees Celsius in the morning.

Both day and night temperatures in Calcutta have stayed below normal since, though the mercury has been steadily climbing (see chart).

Weather scientists were looking at the possibility of a chill rerun. “Rain will rid the air of its moisture, aid the North Wind to gain force and flow freely. This will bring back the cold,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of IMD, Calcutta.

“The circulation is headed east but we can’t say for sure how far it will travel. In any case, there will be some clouding in the city from Sunday afternoon. Chances of rainfall in Calcutta seems remote… but one can never tell,” he added.

Even if the system stops short of Calcutta, moisture from the Bay would keep the sky covered up and cosy on Monday and Tuesday.