Several parts of sub-Himalayan Bengal experience hailstorm on Friday afternoon
Many parts of the sub-Himalayan Bengal experienced intermittent bouts of hailstorm on Friday afternoon, hours before the fifth phase of the state polls.
Hail and storms are likely in the region on Saturday too, weathermen have said. Large parts of the region — including Siliguri and Jalpaiguri — vote on Saturday.
Friday’s longest hailstorm lasted for around 20 minutes here in Siliguri and left the streets swathed in white.
It was accompanied by a number of brief but intense spells of rainfall, which continued till evening.
Late in the evening, strong gusty winds blew in and around Siliguri.
The hailstorm and gusty wind affected the movement of polling personnel to some booths. Publicity materials of political parties got damaged.
The hailstorm, also reported in Darjeeling, Kurseong, Kalimpong and Gangtok left tea planters perturbed.
“Hailstorms can cause considerable damage to tea leaves. After today’s (Friday’s) hailstorm, we suspect the quality of leaves will suffer in many tea gardens where production has just,” said a tea planter in Siliguri.
“An upper air trough is hovering over north Bengal and Sikkim. This contributed to the hailstorm and the shower as there was a strong moisture incursion from the Bay of Bengal,” said Gopinath Raha, head of the Regional Meteorological Centre of Gangtok.
The formation of hailstones, he said, could be because of the larger-than-usual volume of thunderclouds that, in places, touched the freezing troposphere.
Weathermen have forecast more hailstorms, thunderstorms and showers on Saturday. “Isolated areas of north Bengal and Sikkim are likely to get hailstorms and thunderstorms on Saturday,” said a meteorologist.
He added that the maximum temperature in the region was likely to hover around 30°C in the next two days.
“We are keeping fingers crossed for a sunny Saturday. Adverse weather can discourage many voters from walking up to the booths,” said a senior political worker.