While some melted in the swelter of public transportations stuck in traffic jams across the city, others tried to escape the heat by taking refuge under shady nooks in parks on Valentine’s Day. Today, the city turned a-sauna with the mercury soaring four degrees above normal. With the day recording a maximum temperature of 33 degrees Celsius and a minimum of 20 degrees, Kolkatans had enough reasons to envy denizens of the northern districts of Darjeeling, North Dinajpur, Jalpaiguri and Cooch Behar, that are expected to receive rains in the next 48 hours.
According to Mr GC Debnath, director of the Regional Meteorological Department, temperatures in south Bengal districts will increase and so will the humidity adding to general discomfort. Those who had cursed the debilitating cold only a couple of weeks ago have already began longing for a respite from the heat. Mr Subir Haldar, working in a Park Street establishment, said: “Travelling in Metro during office hours has become almost impossible as it is very crowded and almost everybody sweats profusely. Today the situation was worse with traffic disruptions. Metro was crowded like never before.” A passenger of a route 237 bus said that he and his fellow passengers had not budged an inch for 20 minutes, with the vehicle being stuck in a jam. “It’s so hot and so many rallies have been allowed on the roads. It’s inhuman,” he said.
Till the third week of January this year, the minimum temperature was 2-3 degree Celsius below normal due to strong northly or north-westerly winds. Ditto for corresponding period last year when minimum temperatures remained 1-3 degree Celsius below normal. The lowest minimum temperature in the city, 9.6 degree Celsius, was recorded on 12 January this year. Such a chill was last experienced in 2003. Ms Chaitali Samaddar, a college student, whose Valentine’s rendezvous included a boat trip on the Ganga off Outram Ghat, said: “It’s so hot that a boat trip would be anything but romantic. The plan had to be cancelled.”