Monsoon 2003 has saved the worst for last. With a day to go for the rains to bid farewell officially, Calcutta and the rest of Gangetic West Bengal were lashed on Tuesday by the heaviest showers of the season, throwing normal life into disarray. And the weatherman warned of no respite from the showers for the next 48 hours.
“The rainfall received over the past 24 hours is the highest this season,” confirmed an official at the regional meteorological centre in Alipore. The city recorded 150 mm of rain between 5.30 pm on Monday and 5.30 pm on Tuesday, while Dum Dum received 78 mm between 8.30 am and 5.30 pm on Tuesday.
After scanning the satellite pictures of the depression — that entered from the Bay of Bengal on Tuesday morning and lay 100 km east of Jagdalpur, in Orissa — Alipore Met officials decided to sound an alert for the next two days.
K.K. Chakraborty, director of the weather section of Alipore Met Office, said with the depression moving very slowly, there are chances of “heavy rains, with some very heavy showers” in some parts of the city and the rest of Gangetic West Bengal over the next 48 hours.
In meteorology parlance, “heavy” rainfall means 60 to 70 mm. If the rainfall exceeds 130 mm, it is dubbed “very heavy”.
Elaborating on the alert, Chakraborty said: “We have asked fishermen in the coastal areas of the state not to venture out in the next 48 hours. In the coastal belt, we have warned of gusty winds with speeds touching 60 kph.”
The depression, which is creeping up in a north-north-west direction, has resulted in the formation of a huge mass of rain-bearing clouds over south Bengal and the Orissa-Andhra Pradesh border. It was first detected over the Bay of Bengal on Sunday and it crossed the coast on Tuesday morning.
“There is an easterly wind blowing in from the Bay of Bengal and this depression is being constantly fed by moisture. The sky is expected to clear only when the depression moves further into the land and out of reach of the moisture-laden winds from the Bay of Bengal,” said an official.
“We expect the depression to enter Chhattisgarh by Wednesday, where it is likely to be engulfed by a dry north-westerly wind circulation. This phenomenon will cause the depression to weaken,” he added.
Officials also said that if the depression moves a little faster towards Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, there are chances of the weather improving later on Wednesday. “It all depends on how fast the system moves,” they admitted.
Chakraborty said that apart from Calcutta, heavy rains were reported from Digha, in East Midnapore district, and from several parts of South 24-Parganas. “Digha recorded 230 mm of rain and Kalaikunda 100 mm between 8.30 am on Monday and 8.30 am on Tuesday. In Diamond Harbour, the figure was 70 mm in the same time-span,” he added.