The Telegraph
Thursday , June 27 , 2013
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Monsoon marks a marathon

Monsoon hasn’t been so much in love with June over the past seven years.

This June has been the rainiest and coolest in many years with the skies opening up 19 out of 19 days since the arrival of monsoon in the second week of the month.

The best part is that it has been raining in fits and starts unlike six years ago, in 2008, when it poured even more but Calcuttans couldn’t enjoy the weather because it rained in torrents, causing heavy waterlogging on the streets.

Since 2007, monsoon has been touching base between May 25 and June 17 (last year). In 2009, it arrived with cyclone Aila.

If a period of 19 days since monsoon’s arrival over the past six years is taken into account, Calcutta received an average of 13 days or 68 per cent of rain. This year, the number of rainy days has been 100 per cent.

“It has rained every day either in the entire city or in some parts. This does not happen every year. The intermittent rain has not only kept the temperature down but also boosted crop growth,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the regional met office at Alipore.

As a result, the mean maximum and minimum temperatures have been 33.9 and 26.9 degrees Celsius, a touch lower than the normal average of 34.4 and 27.4 degrees Celsius for the period (June 1 to 26).

“A slew of factors have been keeping the monsoon winds active. The airflow is hijacking water vapour drawn by other systems (depressions and low-pressure troughs) from the sea and bringing rain to Calcutta and the adjoining areas,” a weather scientist said.

The cumulative rainfall for the period was more in 2008 and 2011, but rainy days were less. This means some days were extremely hot and sultry.

Rainfall data for the past few months show that the summer months of March, April and May each had deficit rainfall. March, the month when Calcutta usually receives 38.2mm of rain according to Met data from 1971 to 2000, got only 2.2mm of rainfall this year.

Similarly, April got 41mm of rain instead of the normal 58.8mm while May received 122.4mm instead of 136.6mm.

The cumulative rainfall for these three months was 165.6mm while the normal is 233.6mm, a shortfall of 30 per cent.

“In the first three months of this summer, Calcutta got 50 per cent rain days (when it pours 2.5mm or more) than normal. The June turnaround will compensate the shortfall,” a senior scientist at the Met office said.

The turnaround is expected to continue for the next couple of days. The forecast says light to moderate rain because of the presence of a low0pressure area over north Madhya Pradesh.

“I will go with the rain than the sun. Even when it is not raining, the sky is usually overcast and at least a breeze blowing,” said Anuradha Ghosh, 32, a Salt Lake Sector V techie.

Calling the weather “outright romantic” on most days, she said the “playful” clouds were helping her cut down on the sun-block lotion.

“The weather has been following a similar pattern for the past 19 days. The clouds have blocked solar radiation, thereby keeping the discomfort level down despite the high humidity,” said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department in Calcutta.