The Telegraph
Tuesday , April 1 , 2014
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Celsius drops but no one feels it
Scorcher alert for two days

Calcutta hurtled from heatwave Sunday to miserable Monday, the scorching sun and dry winds keeping the city roasted despite a two-degree drop in the maximum temperature.

It was still by far the hottest Monday of the season at 37.8 degrees Celsius and the forecast for the next two days won’t bring any relief. “Similar weather will continue,” a Met official said.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the maximum temperature could rise to 38 or 39 degrees Celsius and even higher in the western districts, the official said.

Monday’s temperature drop was hardly felt by anyone out in the sun. The hot and dry winds blowing from central India nullified the 2.1-degree fall.

“I felt my fingers burn as I opened the iron gate of our building,” said Anuradha Basu, a resident of Ajaynagar, off the Bypass.

The discomfort index, which measures the effect of heat and humidity on the human body, was measured at 61 degrees Celsius, six notches above the comfort level, at 2.30pm on Monday.

The Met office held out the promise of Nor’westers across south Bengal, including the city, only towards the second half of the week, the earliest being Thursday.

The March-end weather has never been so cruel in the recent past. Between March 29 and 31, the average maximum temperature was 38.9 degrees Celsius this year, 2.5 degrees more than the reading for all years since 2009.

The average minimum relative humidity — which shows the moisture content in the air during the afternoon — on these three days has been 27 per cent in 2014, almost of half of what was recorded in the previous years.

After Sunday’s 39.9 degrees Celsius, which prompted the weather office to sound the heatwave alert, Monday’s lone consolation was that the maximum temperature didn’t soar past the 40-degree mark as predicted. Yet it was four degrees above normal for this time of the year.

The Met office declares a heatwave when the maximum reading rises five degrees or more than the normal.

Relative humidity is likely to go up by Wednesday, meaning the discomfort level will rise concurrently. “The added moisture in the air will hopefully bring Nor’westers,” the Met official said.

“The Chhotanagpur Plateau is heating up and by Wednesday we expect a low-pressure area to develop there and create the ideal conditions for thunderstorms,” a senior weather scientist said.

Hot and dry loo-like conditions persisted across the western districts.

In Bankura, the Celsius touched 39 degrees on Monday afternoon.

“The intensity of the hot and dry winds blowing from central India weakened a bit on Monday. But the stinging loo-like wind will persist on Tuesday, aiding the heatwave in some districts. Calcutta will be spared of a heatwave, though,” said an official at the India Meteorological Department in Calcutta.

“A westerly wind is blowing over the region and a low-pressure area over the plateau may turn the wind’s direction towards the east. This will bring moisture from the Bay of Bengal. Rain-bearing clouds are not forming at the moment, but an influx of moisture later in the week is likely to bring rainfall on Thursday and Friday,” the scientist added.