Heat-streak warning in swelter Sunday

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By OUR BUREAU
  • Published 4.06.12
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A pressure-cooker Sunday has put Calcutta on course for a heat wave-like spell of 40-plus temperatures with little chance of rain until the monsoon hits town.

“There will be no respite for the people of Calcutta over the next few days. There is a chance of the maximum temperature shooting past 40 degrees Celsius in south Bengal, including Calcutta,” Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore, told Metro.

The monsoon usually arrives in the city around June 8, but will be delayed this year, according to weather experts.

Localised thundershowers aren’t on the radar either. “The clouds observed in north Bengal are not monsoon clouds. The clouds are too high… and the monsoon line hasn’t moved over the past week,” said Devendra Pradhan, head of the Doppler Weather Radar Centre in Calcutta.

Sunday scored high on the discomfort scale, if not the Celsius. The maximum temperature may have been just a notch above normal at 37.1 degrees Celsius, but what the Calcuttan felt on the skin was an incredible 66 degrees.

The weatherman blamed the high discomfort index — 11 degrees above normal — on a combination of humidity and a minimum temperature that didn’t dip beyond 30.5 degrees even before dawn, when the weather is supposed to be at its coolest.

“The minimum reading was four notches above normal for this time of the year, while the minimum relative humidity was a high 59 per cent. No wonder the city felt so uncomfortable,” said an official of the India Meteorology Department.

Jyotirmoy Nandi, a resident of Phoolbagan, had barely taken 50 steps towards a neighbourhood grocery store when he was bathed in sweat. “I have seldom felt so uncomfortable in the sun. The weather this summer couldn’t be worse,” he said.

Lalbazar has asked its traffic guard heads to rejig the duty rosters to ensure that constables are not deployed on the road on successive days. All sergeants and constables have been advised to drink adequate fluids while on duty outdoors.

For Higher Secondary examinees awaiting the announcement of their results on Monday, it has been a twin assault of tension and temperature. “I couldn’t sleep a wink last night because of the heat and am bracing for another sleepless night thinking about the results,” said a student of Sakhawat Memorial Girls’ High School.

There’s no better antidote to anxiety over exam results than passing the test, but dehydration requires immediate action. Doctors recommend higher intake of fluids — water, fruit juice and oral rehydration solution — to combat the heat and humidity.

“A person weighing 55 to 60kg should drink at least four litres of water a day. Ideally, some of the fluid should be oral rehydration solution. And alcohol should be avoided till the phase passes,” said critical care expert Rajeev Seal.

Doctors also warn against prolonged exposure to direct sunlight because that could lead to heat stroke or bleeding from the nose. “If someone bleeds from the nose, he should immediately be brought under a shade. His pulse and blood pressure need to be checked as well,” Seal said.

Dermatologist and t2 columnist Sachin Verma said exposure to sun might cause rashes on the face and other parts of the body. “One should use a Calamine solution. For severe rashes, Hydrocortisone cream is effective,” he recommended.

So how soon can Calcutta expect relief from one of the more oppressive summers this decade? “There is no wind formation that could bring in sufficient moisture from the Bay and cause rain in Calcutta,” the weatherman said.

Calcutta had an unusually rain-deficient May with just five rain days against an average of eight in the month over the past few years.

How to cope with 40-plus

  • Avoid moving in and out of airconditioned rooms
  • Avoid drinking chilled water
  • Drink plenty of fluids, but not aerated drinks
  • Splash water on face and neck every couple of hours
  • Wear light-coloured and loose cotton clothes
  • Avoid oily and spicy food
  • Use sunscreen if you go out in the sun
  • If exposure to sun gives you rashes, use Calamine lotion. For severe rashes, use Hydrocortisone cream