Monsoon has lost its way on the journey to Calcutta and isn’t likely to hit town until at least the weekend, prompting weather scientists to warn of the most delayed rainy season in seven years.
“There is no guarantee it will start raining over the weekend either. But we should be able to tell by then when monsoon is expected,” the Alipore Met office said on Wednesday.
The last time monsoon was abnormally delayed was in 2005, when the first rains of the season didn’t come until June 23. If the welter of monsoon data doesn’t augur well for this city of swelter, there isn’t much to cheer in the “localised” cloud formation either.
“There is a cloud cover over the city and its surroundings because of a trough of low pressure that is drawing moisture from the Bay of Bengal. But it isn’t loaded with enough moisture to result in rain,” said a senior official of the India Meteorological Department in Delhi.
The one consolation for the city is that the cloud cover has kept the Celsius from shooting up to the 40s like it happened last week. Wednesday’s maximum reading in Alipore was 37.6 degrees, counted as four notches above normal because monsoon would have arrived by now in a normal year.
A high humidity range of 47 to 87 per cent caused more discomfort than the Celsius. The day’s discomfort index was 67 per cent, as many as 12 degrees above normal. An index that is 10 degrees above normal is considered abnormal.
Gokul Chandra Debnath, the director of the Regional Meteorological Centre in Alipore, said the possibility of “local thunderclouds” bringing relief to the city over the next 48 hours was slim.
“We studied the progress of the southwesterly monsoon at length on Wednesday and the findings aren’t encouraging. There has been little advancement on the monsoon map and no further movement is expected at least till June 16,” he said.
The monsoon trough usually reaches the city around June 8. Last year, it had arrived behind schedule on June 15.
Debnath said what weather scientists feared most was that monsoon would not bring enough rainfall in June, a month when the city records around 283.5mm on an average. “In June, Calcutta receives rain on 12.7 days on an average. The number goes up to 17 in July and August. With 13 days gone this June, there is already a deficit of more than 69 per cent.”
In some years when there has been a deficit in June rainfall, monsoon has played catch-up in July.
On the other hand, an early monsoon — as was the case when Cyclone Aila dragged it in ahead of time in 2009 — doesn’t necessarily guarantee abundant rainfall.
“Monsoon arrived as early as on May 25 in 2009, and it did start with a bang by recording over 90mm of rain on the first day. But there was a month-long lull after the first few days and the year turned out to be the most rain deficient since 1972,” a weather scientist pointed out.
For the long-suffering Calcuttan, there is little comfort in such statistics. “This kind of weather saps one of all the energy. By the time I reach office, it feels like I don’t have an iota of strength in my body left. I hope we get a downpour soon,” said Rupak Samanta, a senior executive with a private hospital on the Bypass.
In north Bengal, where monsoon kicked in last week, heavy rain has been forecast over the next 24 hours. How Calcutta would have loved to trade places with Siliguri!
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