Has the winter surprised us yet?

My interest in weather has suddenly increased. That of course has a reason. You don’t get interested when things happen in a set pattern but you start noticing them when there is something unusual. To be precise these days the news which I get everyday of the mercury’s dance thrills me but at the same time am worried. Why so many unusual trends all at the same time and what have we done about it?

Agartala had the lowest minimum temperature in the last four decades that of 3.3 degrees Celsius on Jan 10, Patna recorded the lowest ever as per the data available, that is 1.1  degrees Celsius on Jan 9. Chandigarh experienced the coldest day in the last three decades with a maximum temperature of 6.1 degrees on Jan 7 and with  8.5 degrees on Jan 8  it was  lower than that of Shimla’s 11.1 degrees Celsius. There were more surprises. Dew drops froze as temperature dipped overnight in Mahabaleshwar and thus rendered a snow like blanket reminding the tourists of the hill stations in North India. Kolkata on two occasions had lower temperature than Delhi. Talking of Kolkata it suddenly seems winters are over and it returns with a bang again.

Weather man has a tough job I guess as the trends keep on surprising us. Why weather is playing truant and what has happened to winters in India? As per the reports this has been the coldest winter in 44 years in North India. The reason cited was that as there was a formation of low pressure so cold icy winds are blowing into India. The  Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) confirmed that this phenomenon will continue for few weeks. Fog may be cleared by the winds but it will make nights even more biting.

What is our preparedness regarding this situation? Are there night shelters everywhere across India where winter is playing havoc and taking away lives? We keep on hearing about what is being done or not done regarding night shelters in Delhi but what about other cities and towns and those places where mercury is dipping mercilessly?  Do we even treat weather as something for which we should prepare? Reports say there have been more than 200 deaths due to this in UP only. We still don’t have the figures from other states. We rarely get the total figure. The DM and police superintendents of police in UP  think and in fact they have stated that there was no death due to cold wave. At the same time we hear that the state government has released Rs. 20 crore for blankets, bonfire and construction of temporary shelter homes. There is no explanation though why there is no process at place when it is a known fact that winters are severe in some parts of India. In fact this time new places are being added to the list. It seems winter is still viewed as something to be enjoyed and gushed about but when it comes to harsh reality then the situation is different. People who migrate to other cities in search of jobs and live on pavements, to them drop of one degree means a drop in heart beat.  Can we take the winters a bit seriously?