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Temperature high, atmosphere dry
Lack of moisture keeps rain at bay

Students of Magadh Mahila College escape the heat sitting under a tree and quenching their thirst
in Patna on Tuesday. Picture by Jai Prakash

This April is the decade’s driest.

The city has not experienced a drop of rain this month so far. Nor a single Nor’wester — a weather system that brings sudden thunderstorms in summer — has hit the town till date. The situation is identical to that of 2010, when there was no rainfall in entire April.

Like Patna, several other districts are going high and dry unlike Ranchi and Bhubaneswar, where rain gods had been kinder. The Jharkhand and Odisha capitals experienced showers on Sunday.

April is considered the peak time for Nor’westers in Bihar. But the prevailing weather conditions are not favourable for sudden thunderstorms.

Weathermen claimed that lack of sufficient moisture in the atmosphere was keeping the Nor’westers at bay.

“The dominating dry westerly winds in the region are pushing the moisture content to lower levels. The moist easterly winds coming from the Bay of Bengal are still not strong enough in the region. Nor’wester would not occur till the easterly winds gain intensity and draw sufficient moisture to the region,” said R.K. Giri, meteorologist, India Meteorological Department (IMD), Patna.

The Nor’westers sweeping across Bihar originates from the Chhotanagpur plateau in neighbouring Jharkhand. The dry and hot westerly winds mix with moist easterly winds coming from the Bay of Bengal over the plateau, prompting formation of dark rain-bearing clouds. They move westward, causing rainfall at places they pass through.

Giri claimed that Bihar might experience Nor’wester activities around this weekend. “A western disturbance is likely to reach Uttar Pradesh by April 25, triggering moisture incursion in Bihar. High temperature — another pre-condition for Nor’wester — is already prevailing in the region. Thus, we expect the resultant thunderstorm activity around April 27,” said Giri.

In the absence of Nor’westers, the heat is getting harsher by the day. The maximum temperature in Patna has remained above 35°C on most of the days this month. The rising temperature condition can be gauged with the Celsius measurement in the city over the past three days. On Sunday, the maximum temperature was 37.3°C; then it leapfrogged to 38.6°C on Monday.

As the sun is beating down hard, residents are virtually gasping. “The wind during the daytime seems to be coming from a hot blower. Fans are of little help as they give only hot air. The worst-hit are the kids returning from schools in the afternoon hours. It is only April-end now, I wonder how worse would be the heat in May and June,” said Vibha Pandey, a homemaker at Raja Bazaar.

Giri, the meteorologists, had a word of comfort for Pandey. He claimed that Patna would not experience heat wave conditions at least till the end of the next week. According to meteorology, heat wave condition prevails at a place when the maximum temperature is at least 40°C and five degrees above normal for more than two days.

Taking the heat into count, the zoo authorities have taken initiatives for the protecting of inmates. Patna zoo director S. Chandrashekhar told The Telegraph: “Apart from providing sufficient water to all the animals for drinking and bathing, we are putting straw over the enclosures to provide proper shaded area to them. Extras coolers and fans have also been placed in most of the enclosures. Moreover, water-rich foods like water melon, cucumber and glucose drink are being served to the animals as supplements.”