Cyclone Sitrang took a sharp turn on the Bay of Bengal on Sunday and moved farther away from Kolkata than expected, the Met office said.
The city’s sky was consistently cloudy on Diwali but the rain was negligible. Between 8.30am and 8.30pm on Monday, the Met office in Alipore recorded barely 5mm of rain.
Thanks to the thick, dark cloud cover and winds, the maximum temperature plunged to 24.7 degrees Celsius, almost seven notches below normal.
The maximum temperature on Sunday was 31.8 degrees and the steep fall in 24 hours caught Kolakatans off guard.
A change in the direction of the storm, recurve in Met parlance, was part of the projected path of the storm. From a northwestwards direction, it was expected to turn north and then northeastwards. So it did, but by taking an almost 90-degree turn.
“We had expected the turn to be more curvy. In that case, Kolkata would have been under a secondary impact zone. But an almost 90-degree turn and the velocity thereafter took it further away from Kolkata,” said G.K. Das, director, India Meteorological Department, Kolkata.
On Sunday morning, the cyclone was travelling at a speed of around 15kmph. On Monday morning, it moved at a speed of over 30kmph, said Met officials.
The Met office had predicted moderate rainfall in Kolkata but the city only got a consistent drizzle.
The position and movement of the cyclone created a situation where the winds coming to Kolkata lacked enough moisture, said Das.
“The winds inside the cyclone kept moving in an anticlockwise direction. The movement of the cyclone itself saw the moist winds going to Bangladesh and Tripura. The winds headed to Kolkata came via Bangladesh and north Bengal. They did not have much moisture in them. That is why, despite clouds, Kolkata did not get much rain,” he said.
Ranadeep Mukherjee, a resident of Jadavpur who drove across the city with his wife and seven-year-old daughter visiting pandals, said: “We took out raincoats but the weather calls for a jacket.”
The overcast conditions meant many pandals were desolate. From Janbazar to Shakespeare Sarani, the puja organisers blamed the sky for the lack of visitors.
Traders at Bazi Bazaars said their sales had dwindled.
“The curbs on firecrackers have anyway hurt business badly. The weather hit a knockout punch. I hardly sold anything today,” said a trader at the Bazi Bazaar at Kolkata Blind School in Behala.
The city is unlikely to get much rain on Tuesday. “The first half of Tuesday may remain partly cloudy in Kolkata, but the sky should clear from the evening. The maximum temperature will rise marginally but still be on the lower side,” said a Met official.
A Met bulletin, issued around 8pm on Monday, said the cyclone was over the north Bay of Bengal in the afternoon.
“Sitrang moved north-northeastwards with a speed of 28kmph during past six hours and lay centred at 5.30pm over north Bay of Bengal, about 230km east-southeast of Sagar Island and 230km south of Barisal (Bangladesh).
“It is very likely to continue to move north-northeastwards and it is likely to cross Bangladesh coast between Tinkona Island and Sandwip close to Barisal during midnight,” the bulletin said.