The Telegraph
Sunday , October 6 , 2013
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Rain hits ‘heavy’ mark in 150 minutes
Forecast sees no break in two days

Calcutta, Oct. 5: A downpour on the last Saturday before the Pujas dampened the last-minute shopper’s plans, but there’s more bad news for those hoping to make up tomorrow.

According to the weatherman, the inclement weather will continue for two more days, courtesy an “active monsoon trough”.

Today, the Alipore weather office recorded 84.8mm rainfall between 3pm and 5.30pm, which officials said was one of the heaviest of the season. In the weatherman’s parlance, rainfall between 64mm and 130mm in a day is classified as “heavy”.

“There is a possibility of a low-pressure area developing over the Bay of Bengal by tomorrow. If that happens, it would bring bad news for Puja revellers. We’ll get a clearer picture tomorrow. At this moment, there is no clear indication that it would rain on the Puja days,” said Devendra Pradhan, deputy director-general of meteorology at the Alipore Met office.

The spell of rain that gripped Calcutta today was caused by a low-pressure area over the Bengal-Odisha border early last week. The skies over the city darkened three hours too early and the downpour that followed did not just leave thousands of shoppers stranded but prevented many more from stepping out of home.

“The worst part was that the dark sky had left me apprehensive since afternoon, as though it was a warning not to go out. Else I could have finished my shopping and returned home before the rain started. But I waited for the skies to clear, which never happened,” said Rukmini Das, a cost accountant from Jodhpur Park who had planned to shop through the weekend.

Jodhpur Park, according to the Met department, received 83mm rain between 3pm and 5pm.

“There’s a lot of moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal at the moment as the monsoon trough is passing through the Bengal-Odisha border. Heavy, localised rain is likely to continue in south Bengal, including Calcutta,” a senior official of the Regional Meteorological Office said.

The moisture created a tall column of cloud over Calcutta this afternoon, blocking the sun completely after a morning that saw the mercury touch 34.6C, two notches above normal.

Just before the rain started around 3pm, the base of the cloud was just 300m from the surface and its height was 9km. Motorists had to turn their headlights on and slow to a crawl.

If the rain brought disappointment to people like Das, it caused more inconvenience to those already on the roads.

“My family and I were stranded at South City mall for nearly 40 minutes. There was ankle-deep water at the basement of the parking lot. We chose to wait till the rain eased up. There was very little visibility,” Gariahat resident Debshankar Sinha said.

At the Royal Calcutta Turf Club, those at the members’ stand watched the Victoria Memorial disappear around 3.15pm. Then the rain came pelting down for an hour.

New Market was almost deserted. The few who were there appeared dismayed.

“I had planned to do my Puja shopping today and tomorrow as my husband would be free to accompany me. I can’t come here every day,” rued homemaker Sujata Sarkar, a resident of Kanchrapara.

Sarkar and her husband, a bank official at Dalhousie whose office got over early today, had planned to cover New Market and Camac Street today.

The downpour left several areas — Burdwan Road, Park Circus Connector, AJC Bose Road, parts of Central Avenue, Golf Garden, Hajra Crossing — waterlogged and slowed down traffic.

“The volume of traffic was almost half in the evening,” an officer of the traffic department said.

Behala flying club (78mm), Jinjira Bazaar (77mm), Kalighat (76mm) and Ballygunge (53mm) were some of the places that received the heaviest rain.