The Telegraph
Saturday , April 5 , 2014
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O Nor’wester, where art thou?
- Stormy summer saviour not in sight until next week, hope floats on easterly wind

Had Shakespeare been alive — and in Jharkhand — the hot and dry weather could have squeezed the last drop of poetry out of him. For the singed state’s 3.2 crore natives, it is more like a blistering wait for an elusive Nor’wester.

The summer saviour, which normally takes the Chotanagpur Plateau region by storm in mid-March and spreads rainy proceeds across the tribal heartland, is likely to play truant until April 7 because weathermen haven’t sighted cooling possibilities in another 72 hours.

The Patna Meteorological Centre on Friday indicated that the climate would remain dry over Jharkhand for the next three days. “We see no possibility of a Nor’wester in 72 hours at least. The skies will remain clear,” said director A.K. Sen.

Kalbaisakhi in local parlance, the special storm brews when air over the plateau heats up and gains altitude, drawing moisture from Gangetic Bengal in the process. “The cycle continues because of the excessive heat and the moisture-laden air becomes buoyant. At higher altitude, water vapour condenses and forms tall rain-bearing clouds that bear down as Nor’wester squalls,” an expert at Calcutta weather office explained.

So, why is the Nor’wester elusive this year? “Lack of moisture in the atmosphere is preventing a conducive system over the Chotanagpur Plateau, which is the genesis area. The dry westerly winds are dominating over the state for a long time. If the wind pattern changes to easterly, it will facilitate incursion of moisture and create favourable condition for a Nor’wester,” Patna Met office director Sen said.

The absence of moisture was evident from the daytime humidity chart, which showed a plunge below 10 per cent at many places, including Jamshedpur and its adjoining areas. In Ranchi and its allied pockets, the humidity level was less than 20 per cent.

Statistics show that last year, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Seraikela, Chaibasa, Hazaribagh and Daltonganj had experienced at least two Nor’westers by April 4. The storms continued till the end of May. A single strong Nor’wester can drag temperatures down by several degrees and keep them so for a couple of days.

“This year, the situation is unusual. The unfavourable wind pattern is to blame. There is no sign of Nor’wester activity. Only strong easterly winds can feed abundant moisture and trigger the storm,” a duty officer at the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore, Calcutta, echoed Sen.

A section of weathermen, however, held out hope. “The condition is likely to become favourable for a Nor’wester after 72 hours. The south-easterly wind flow is prevailing in neighbouring Bengal. Its impact will be soon felt in Jharkhand since it may help in developing thunderclouds,” said a senior official at Ranchi Meteorological Centre.

Most parts of Jharkhand are experiencing a prolonged spell of above-normal maximum temperatures for the past week. Jamshedpur, Daltonganj and Dhanbad have remained at the top of the heat chart, with day readings hovering around 40°C, three notches higher than normal. Altitude advantage has, on the other hand, kept Ranchi and its neighbours cooler at around 36°C.