Wednesday, November 18, 2009

SIKKIM:Snow is here, but winter far away

Wait till December to feel the shiver, drizzle-induced chill not to stay: Met experts

Gangtok,Nov. 17: Winter this year has to race hard to catch up with Siliguri, Met experts have said. And it may be as late as the first week of December before it comes calling on the foothills of the Himalayas.

While snow drizzled in Nathu-la and its neighbouring areas today, a common phenomenon this time of the year in the higher reaches of Sikkim like the border pass at 14,400ft, there seems to be no sign of winter in north Bengal plains where the woollens are usually out in November.

A light shower or two in the past 24 hours did raise a hope for the much-awaited cold, but weathermen have dismissed any hope of winter.

According to the Met office, today was the “hottest day” of November in the past four years (see chart). Gopinath Raha, the in-charge of the Jalpaiguri flood and meteorological office, said an anti-cyclonic condition over the Bay of Bengal was the reason for the misty weather.

“There were drizzles in almost every part of north Bengal in the past 24 hours which decreased the temperature, but it should not be described as cold that brings winter to the region. Usually, the minimum temperature varies in this part of the state during the middle of November between 15 and 16 degrees Celsius. But today’s temperature is 19.5 degrees, which is the highest in the past four years in the region,” Raha said.

The Met expert said the weather would remain the same in the next few days. “The anti-cyclonic condition that developed over the Bay of Bengal in the past couple of days has advanced towards the northeastern part of the country by covering Orissa and Bihar, resulting in the cloudy weather in the region,” Raha said. “There is a possibility of the weather remaining the same in the next two days.”

The drizzle-induced morning chill prompted many Siliguri residents to bring out their woollens. Most of them were, however, not aware that today was the hottest compared to temperature on this day in the past four years.

But the damp weather is expected to have a bad impact on winter farming, feel agriculture department officials.

“As the paddy is ready for harvesting everywhere, the rainfall at this time will affect the crop. This type of moisture in the environment is ideal for blights,” said Mehfuz Alam, the assistant director of the Siliguri subdivisional agricultural department.

In Sikkim, there was heavy snowfall at Chhangu and Nathu-la from the morning, disrupting the border trade with the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR). Sources in the commerce department of Sikkim said no traders arrived at the trade mart at Sherathang from TAR. Traders from Sikkim, who managed to reach the spot, however, could not set up shop and returned to Gangtok. The trade through Nathu-la, located at 14,400 feet, officially closes on November 30.

The first snowfall in Sikkim this season was at Yumthang in North Sikkim at 12,000 feet in the last week of October.

No comments: