Calcutta, Jan. 7: The city and the south Bengal districts shivered today as the mercury dipped to 11.3 degrees Celsius, two degrees below normal.
The Met office only confirmed what was apparent to ordinary people: it was the coldest day this winter. The minimum temperature at Dum Dum in the city’s northern fringe dipped a further two degrees.
A cold wave swept Purulia, Bankura, Birbhum, West Midnapore, Murshidabad and Burdwan, where the minimum temperatures ranged between 6.5 degrees and eight.
Three persons, who were homeless, died in Burdwan in the past two days.
The deputy director-general of the regional meteorological centre at Alipore, R.N. Goldar, offered no relief from the chill. The temperature could dip further tomorrow and the spell is likely to continue for the next three or four days, he said.
“The sky is clear and the north wind is blowing in from Uttar Pradesh and its adjoining areas unhindered. The bite of the cold appears fierce because the day temperatures are also five to six degrees below normal. This factor, plus the fact that the wind is blowing at five to 10 km per hour is giving the feel of severe cold,” he added.
However, Goldar said the chill in the city cannot be described as a “cold wave”.
“In meteorological parlance, we can describe a winter weather condition as cold wave only when the minimum temperature is five to six degrees below normal,” he said.
The early morning mist affected train services in the Howrah section. The Amritsar Express and Kanchanjangha Express arrived late due to blinding fog and had to be rescheduled.
Calcuttans woke up biting their teeth under quilts and blankets, reluctant to step on to the “frozen” floor.
People on the roads, buses and the Metro were seen sporting their thickest woollens, jackets and blazers.
The dash of colours in the dapper masses provided some relief from the grey after sundown. Areas in the city, like Salt Lake, those along the VIP Road, the airport and the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass became particularly chilly.
Most city roads were deserted earlier than usual tonight as people scurried home.
Pedestrians stopped at small fires lighted by pavement dwellers at dusk, to warm their hands before heading off. Teastall-owners made brisk business.
“Some areas were colder than the rest as they are less congested and less polluted compared to the city centre. That is why the minimum temperature in Dum Dum is at least two degrees lower than that in Alipore,” weather officials said.
The meteorological assistant of the state soil conservation office, Durgapada Ghosh, said Midnapore town recorded 6.5 degrees, the lowest in two years. A cold wave swept across Jhargram and Belpahari, where Kindergarten schools opened late.
On the G.T. Road near Burdwan, hundreds of trucks stopped early morning unable to drive through thick fog leading to severe traffic snarls.