| A white tiger bathes in the sun in Calcutta. Picture by Amit Datta
Calcutta, Jan. 10: Friday was the coldest day of the season in 10 years with the weather office in Alipore recording a minimum temperature of 9.8 degrees Celsius, three degrees below normal. Yesterday, the minimum temperature was 10.7 degrees.
Cold winds swept the city and its neighbourhood and a large number of Calcuttans chose to snuggle indoors, using the dawn-to-dusk bandh called by a minor political party as an excuse.
On the city streets, people were seen making bonfires out of newspapers to keep themselves warm. Most roads got deserted earlier than usual as people scurried home. Salt Lake and areas along VIP Road, EM Bypass and near the airport became particularly chilly.
Weather officials said the last time the mercury dipped so low was in 1992, when the minimum temperature touched 9.7 degrees. In 1990, the minimum temperature dipped to 9.9.
Flights to Delhi were delayed by three to five hours due to dense fog in the capital. Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty said at Writers’ Buildings some trains were held up in the morning by fog.
The deputy director-general of the Regional Meteorological Centre, R.N. Goldar, said there are indications of a slight rise in the minimum temperature tomorrow.
“The chilly spell has been continuing for a few days. Now, we think the minimum temperature will rise slightly. But mind you, this will not be the end of winter,” said Goldar.
Weather experts said the chilly spell in the past few days was due to unusually low day temperatures.
“Yesterday, the maximum temperature was 19.7 degrees, which was 7 degrees below normal, today the maximum temperature was 21.8 degrees, 5 degrees below normal. Now, the maximum temperature is expected to rise and reach the normal of 26 degrees to 27 degrees,” they said.
A cold wave continued to sweep the districts today. At Santiniketan, it was biting cold and students stayed away from class. Weather officials said West Midnapore, Purulia, Birbhum, Burdwan, Bankura, Malda, Murshidabad, North and South Dinajpur were in the grip of the cold wave and minimum temperatures were between 6 and 7 degrees.
In Purulia, Malda and Murshidabad, at least a dozen people died in the last two days.
Weather officials said the chill was caused by the north wind blowing in from Uttar Pradesh and adjoining areas at 5-10 km per hour.