In contrast to 2017 March, squalls gave Kolkata a miss this yr

KOLKATA: The city didn’t have to weather a storm in March. For the first time since 2015, received no squall in March. While three thunderstorms skirted the city, Kolkata received just 2mm rainfall last month.

Although March is not particularly a wet month, with just four expected rainy days, this time the figure dropped to just two days.

In March 2017, Kolkata received two squalls and three thunderstorms, making it the wettest in a decade.

Explaining the absence of squalls, weathermen blamed the disappearance of western disturbances. Rain and squalls are often triggered by western disturbances during the pre-summer season, they said. “Another very important factor is the heating of the Chhotanagpur plateau area, which is crucial for triggering nor’westers or squalls.

This year, Chhotanagpur has not been heated sufficiently or frequently enough. So, a couple of thunderstorms lost steam before reaching Kolkata.

On March 31, a thunderstorm brushed past the southern fringes of the city but it wasn’t a squall,” said G K Das, director of ().

Weathermen said conditions for precipitating squalls and thundershowers had been developing all the while and moisture-laden winds have been flowing in unobstructed from highpressure zones above . But they have not been aided by low-pressure troughs along the eastern fringes of . In the absence of troughs, the moisture-incursion too, has not been as effective.

March 2017 was unusually stormy and also the wettest in a decade. The average maximum temperature also remained pleasant between 30°C to 32°C, two notches below the normal mark.

The sudden disappearance and the low frequency of squalls and thunderstorms have also left the weathermen surprised. In March 2017, the city received 137.4mm, way above the normal average of 35mm.

“Pre -monsoon showers are common in March, but they have turned infrequent in recent years. While it was pleasantly different last year, thundershowers depend on moisture-incursion and heating of the Chhotanagpur plateau. Unfortunately, things haven’t been falling in place this year. But squalls occur till May so we still have enough time,” said GK Das, director, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC). On average, Kolkata is lashed by two squalls in April and three in May.

Kolkata has four wet days in March but it has been fewer recently. Last year, the city had five rainy days but not all of them were squalls.

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