The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Killer heat from west

June 2: A heat wave scalded almost all of Bengal today, killing five persons and taking the maximum temperature up to 40.6 degrees Celsius in Calcutta, the highest this season.

As hot winds from the west blowing across the central Indian plains swept into the state, the Met office said Bengal would be in the grip of the heat wave for another 48 hours.

Meteorologists describe a weather condition as a heat wave when the maximum temperature rises to 5 degrees above normal.

Officials at the regional meteorological centre in Calcutta’s Alipore said the spell would affect all districts, except Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar.

Three persons died in Malda and one each was killed in North 24-Parganas and Murshidabad.

The Met office did not hold out any immediate hope for rains and alerted the state government. Relief secretary Atanu Purakayastha said district magistrates had been asked to remain vigilant.

K.K. Chakraborty, the acting deputy director-general of meteorology, said the monsoon would be late this year. “The south-west monsoon has covered the east-central Bay and is expected to reach Bengal by the middle of June,” he said.

Weather forecasts are not always right, but if what an Indian government laboratory predicted today turns out to be true, rainfall would be poor in June and July.

The Bangalore-based Centre for Mathematical Modeling and Computer Simulation said rainfall would be 34 per cent below normal in June and 12 per cent below normal in July. ( )

In Bengal, the mercury has risen sharply over the past 24 hours because of a change in the wind pattern. The heat wave started building up since last afternoon when the wind blew in from the west, added G.C. Debnath, the director of the weather section at Alipore.

“By 11.30 am today, the temperature shot up to 38 degrees and touched 40.6 degrees, six degrees above normal, at 2.30 pm. Tomorrow, the sky is expected to be mainly clear. The maximum temperature in Calcutta and its neighbourhood is expected to hover around 40 degrees,” Debnath said.

a strong westerly wind started blowing at about 30 km an hour yesterday afternoon. Sweeping over land on its journey, it brought down the humidity level and led to a steep rise in the maximum temperature. The minimum humidity dropped today to 37 per cent from yesterday’s 54 per cent.

Met officials said a “very weak” south-westerly wind was coming in from the Bay of Bengal.

“But the westerly wind is much stronger. So, whatever moisture incursion is there it is not enough to develop rain clouds,” an official said.

In Malda, the death toll rose to eight in the past 72 hours. Malda town recorded 46.1 degrees, a steep rise from 42.5 degrees yesterday. Temperatures in Purulia, Burdwan and Murshidabad districts were 45 to 46 degrees on an average.

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