The Telegraph
Saturday , March 29 , 2014
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Celsius soars without sweat

- 37.5 & rising, no sign of rain

The Celsius is on a hot streak, just like the sensex.

Friday saw not only the stock market scaling a new peak but also summer hitting a season high of 37.5 degrees in the city.

But while investors riding the bull get a chance to catch their breath over the weekend, there’s no respite for Calcuttans from the rise of the Celsius.

Friday’s reading was 1.2 degrees higher than Thursday’s maximum and three degrees above normal. Conditions are ripe for the temperature to go even higher, the weather office said.

According to meteorological data made available to Metro, Friday was the hottest day in the city since May 16, 2013 — 10 months and 13 days ago. The temperature that day was 38.2 degrees, just .2 notches below the prediction for the weekend.

A soft drink in hand and a piece of wet wipe on the skin, two Calcuttans fight the Celsius on the Maidan on Friday. Pictures by Pradip Sanyal

“The day temperature is likely to be around 38 degrees on Saturday and Sunday as there is no weather system in the region that could draw moisture from the Bay of Bengal to form clouds over the city. The sun’s rays are reaching the surface without any obstruction because the skies are clear. More solar radiation means higher temperature,” a weather scientist said.

The one factor making end-March tolerable is the lower-than-normal relative humidity for this time of the year. Humidity ranged between 33 and 38 per cent throughout Friday afternoon, which is why people didn’t feel as uncomfortable as they would with the maximum temperature above 37 degrees.

The discomfort index, which represents the effect of heat and humidity on the human body, was 62 degrees Celsius at 2.30pm, seven degrees more than the comfort level but minus the sweaty feeling.

“When relative humidity is low, perspiration evaporates more easily. So people do not feel too uncomfortable,” said an official of the India Meteorological Department, Calcutta.

Sujata Mishra, a 32-year-old teacher in a south Calcutta college, felt the sun bite her skin the moment she stepped out on Friday afternoon. “The bottle of water in my bag became warm after just a five-minute walk to the taxi stand around 2pm,” she said.

Shankar Chowdhuri, a company executive whose office is on Theatre Road, won’t mind the heat as long as the weather stays dry. “It’s hot but not so sweaty for a change. The heat was dry like in Delhi when I stepped out of my office for a smoke in the afternoon,” he said.

“Hot and dry” is the forecast for 48 hours, though humidity might increase from Monday and, along with it, the discomfort that Calcuttans dread. There is no thunderstorm on the radar immediately despite the Celsius already pushing 40 degrees across the east, including the Chhota Nagpur Plateau where Nor’westers originate.

“Apart from high temperature, a Nor’wester is dependent on wind flow from the south to feed the atmosphere with water vapour. The second criterion is not being fulfilled at the moment,” said Gokul Chandra Debnath, director of IMD Calcutta. “We will take a fresh look at the conditions on Monday to assess if moisture incursion has increased and there is any chance of a Nor’wester.”