The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Gujarat sucks Bengal rain
- Met office predicts better weather on Sunday afternoon

Calcutta, Sept. 23: Gujarat’s grief was Bengal’s gain today.

After 211.6 mm of rain and dark forecasts from the Met office yesterday, a relieved south Bengal saw only scanty rainfall today courtesy a cyclone intensifying off the Gujarat coast and the depression over Jharkhand weakening.

Met officials now predict better weather from noon tomorrow but won’t stick their neck out and forecast a sunny Puja weekend.

G.C. Debnath, director of the weather section at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore, cited two reasons why his warning of heavy rain till tomorrow went awry.

One, the cyclone that had yesterday begun to form off the west coast intensified, sucking in moisture from the depression over Jharkhand that was causing the rain here.

“So the depression is no longer being fed heavily with moisture from the Bay of Bengal,” said Debnath, who had mentioned the possibility as a window of hope yesterday. “This is one reason why it rained very scantily on Saturday.”

On the flip side, the development spawned a cyclone alert in Gujarat’s coastal districts, with fishing and shipping activities suspended at all the ports.

The second reason for the meagre rainfall in Bengal was that the depression that lay stationary with its centre close to Ranchi for the past 48 hours showed signs of weakening. It is now likely to move northwards towards Bihar.

But there could still be heavy rain in Calcutta and south Bengal till late tomorrow morning. “We expect the sky to clear only around Sunday noon,” Debnath said.

Asked if the skies would remain clear during the Pujas, Met officials said they weren’t sure. “The weather is expected to remain clear during the Pujas only if there is no new low pressure or depression brewing over the Bay of Bengal,” an official said.

The monsoon is now “very active” over Bengal, he added. “After the depression over Jharkhand dissipates, the monsoon current, too, is expected to weaken. So we can expect a spell of fair weather during the next few days. But we can’t immediately predict clear weather during the Pujas.”

Gujarat braced for the cyclone, which lay 280 km southwest of Porbandar (in Saurashtra) this evening and was expected to hit the coast between Porbandar and Naliya (in Kutch) within 24 hours.

Kutch district collector Sanjay Dwivedi was quoted by agencies as saying: “Signal number nine, indicating ‘great danger’, has been sounded for the ports (Kandla and Nundra) located in the Gulf of Kutch and others on the coastal areas.”

Pakistan, too, put its coasts on high alert.

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