Kolkata caught unawares as squall storms in after scorcher

KOLKATA: A squall lashed Kolkata with a wind speed of 98km an hour — the third fastest to hit the city since — and brought life to a halt at the end of a scorching Tuesday. The maximum temperature had surged to 37.8°C — the season’s highest so far — during the day. The storm pulled the mercury down by 9.6°C even as Kolkata received 29.6mm rain till 9pm.
The thunderstorm — the third of the month — had been predicted to lash Hooghly, Howrah, East Midnapore, North and South 24 Parganas, apart from Kolkata. A ‘nowcast’ prediction issued by the Met office had forecast a moderate thunderstorm with a wind speed of 30-40km an hour. But it was never predicted to be this violent and got Kolkatans unawares. The storm triggered a light drizzle, which soon turned into a steady shower.

The clouds had concentrated over Kolkata while floating towards the city from the neighbouring districts, said weathermen. “It got focused on Kolkata, which turned the storm so violent,” said GK Das, director of (RMC).

Earlier in the day, the heat got stifling, a sharp contrast to the relatively pleasant weather that had prevailed during the first half of the month. April 1to 15 was, in fact, cooler than the corresponding periods of the last two years. The average temperature during the month’s first fortnight was higher in 2016 and 2017, according to the Met office.

Scorching winds from central India are blowing in unobstructed into . The Met office saw no respite from the heat and predicted that the mercury could climb up a degree on Wednesday. The website forecast said the maximum temperature could hover between 38°C and 39°C till April 20. Another thunderstorm, however, has been predicted on Wednesday. But the relief could be temporary.

“A cyclonic circulation is set to develop over Gangetic Bengal. It could trigger thunderstorm, but it won’t have a significant impact on the temperature,” said Das.

Thundershowers helped to pull the mercury down and keep the heat within tolerable limits during the first half of the month, explained weathermen. Kolkata received rain on seven days during the last fortnight. Two squalls hit the city during the period, including one on April 7 that dragged the mercury down by almost 2.5°C.

In contrast, the city had been lashed by rain just once during the period in 2016. Last year, the first fortnight of April was completely dry. “Only thunderstorms can keep mercury down during this period. In the last two years, there had been few in April, resulting in stifling heat. This year, we have had rain almost every alternate day, which has kept the mercury in check,” said Das.

April 2016 was the worst in recent memory. Kolkata experienced a near heat-wave condition during the first half of April two years ago. The mercury had shot past the 40°C mark on as many as five days, with a highest temperature of 41.3°C on April 12 that year. “It had rained just once during that scorching period. In contrast, this month we have had seven days of rain, including two squalls. Such pleasant weather has been rare in April in recent years and has kept the weather pleasant,” said Das.

In 2017, things had been more pleasant than 2016. The highest maximum temperature recorded in the first fortnight of April was 37.3°C. This year, the highest recorded in the first half of the month was 36.7°C, on April 14.

Get latest news & live updates on the go on your pc with . Download The for your device. in English and other languages.