The Telegraph
Wednesday , June 6 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Feelin’ hot, hot, hot...

An already oppressive summer continues to blaze its way with extremes of heat and humidity that meteorologists consider “abnormal” for this time of the year.

The maximum temperature hit 43.1°C around noon on Tuesday, which in combination with a humidity of 30 per cent, made for a day that felt like 70°C — the discomfort index — on the human body.

Metro highlights Patna’s heat woes, from skies without rain clouds to residential areas without power.

What the Met charts say: A measure of the weather extremities was the day’s minimum temperature, which didn’t dip beyond 29.1°C. “This reading is barely 2 notches below the normal maximum temperature for this time of the year, which says a lot about how Patna is suffering,” said a weather scientist.

The day’s discomfort index was 15 notches above normal.

“The humidity range of 20 to 60 per cent is also unusual for this time of the year. The minimum is normally around 60 per cent and the maximum in the nineties. A maximum temperature of more than 40 degrees and a discomfort index of 70 degrees on a June day is highly abnormal,” said an official of the India Meteorology Department.

Why it is so hot: The key factors are low minimum humidity, lack of rain and a strong northwesterly flow of wind that is bringing intense heat from parts of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi.

The sluggish movement of the monsoon, which hit Kerala on Tuesday, could cause a corresponding delay in Bihar. In the absence of pre-monsoon showers, the city has turned into a cauldron.

According to weather scientists, the slowness of the monsoon is responsible for sub-normal moisture incursion into the air over the city, resulting in low humidity. During this time of the year, if minimum humidity is low, the surface of the earth heats up more easily through unrestricted solar radiation.

The northwesterly winds have been hotter than usual with Madhya Pradesh and Jharkhand seeing maximum temperatures in the 45-47°C range. On entering Bihar, these winds are further heating up the region through advection, a transport mechanism of heat by wind.

What Wednesday is likely to be: Temperature and humidity are likely to mirror Tuesday’s readings. There is little possibility of rain in the city, although a partial cloud cover in the morning might raise expectations of some relief from the heavens.

What June is capable of: The hottest ever June day in Patna was 46 years ago. “On June 9, 1966, the maximum temperature touched 46.6°C. Though temperatures might stay in the forties for some more days, the all-time record is unlikely to be broken,” a Met official said.

How power played truant: Power continues to play hide and seek with Patna residents. The erratic supply in the city has exposed the much-vaunted pre-summer maintenance work of Patna Electric Supply Undertaking (Pesu), responsible for power supply in urban Patna. It claimed that it had made all necessary arrangements to cope with the problems of summer primarily caused by old and rickety distribu- tion system.

Patnaites have to face power cuts due to overloaded power sub-stations (45), distribution transformers (about 4,000 of them from which consumers draw power connection), old and dilapidated cables (3,000km).

All these factors, which constitute the distributionsystem, are not capable of bearing the additional load factor even if Patna gets power as per requirement. That’s why people have to face power tripping quite frequently.

What has aggravated the situation is that the Bihar State Electricity Board, entrusted with the job of power generation, transmission and distribution, does not provide adequate supply to the capital.

The city got around 400 MW on Tuesday against its demand of 550 to 600MW during peak summer. “Life has become hell for us due to non-availability of regular and full-voltage power supply. It always gets cut every few hours or sometimes even within an hour. In this situation, we cannot even carry out our routine work such as washing clothes in the machine. Sometimes it does not take the load of AC or fridge in the absence of full voltage power supply,” said Poonam Singh, a resident of Kesri Nagar.

The state electricity board on Tuesday received 1,093MW from the central sector against its scheduled allocation of 1,833MW, board spokesman H.R. Pandey said, adding that the board is also drawing 400 MW from the open market.

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