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POST TIME: 1 September, 2018 00:00 00 AM
Sweltering heat sizzles August
Shehab Ahmed

Sweltering heat sizzles August

The day started bright and clear with sparkling sunlight bringing the first signs of autumn in the capital, raising prospects of a fine day yesterday. But hopes soon fizzled out as the day progressed with a blazing sun almost making it feel like it was burning the skin. What was happening to the weather these days? That was question in many Dhaka residents’ minds. For, it was still the rainy season as the monsoon had not yet packed up and left Bangladesh. Abdur Rahman, a meteorologist at the Dhaka Met Office, said the rains would be officially declared over from mid-October since it arrived in early June.

The arrival of the monsoon had raised hopes among farmers of a good transplantation of Aman rice. A good monsoon was also needed for decomposing jute plants for the production of a good fabric.

The condition for rotting the jute plants requires flowing water in the rivers and canals filled up during the monsoon, as it traditionally does in this deltaic country.

But reports from different districts say farmers are unhappy with the rainfall this year. So, they had to go for decomposing the jute plants in artificially dug pits filled with water lifted by shallow pumps.

Sources say this is not good for jute fibres as they turn greyish yellow from the brackish pools of water. Besides, the use of pumps increases the cost of gathering jute fibres from the plants.

 Abdur Rahman said the situation was mainly due to a shortfall in rainfall. It is expected to be 30-35 per cent below normal during August, which ended yesterday, Met sources said.

 August is usually considered a peak month for the rains,

before the monsoon completes its cycle in the second week of October. September, too, is a good time for the rains before monsoon recedes.

But some unusual things happened this season: there were a few heat waves in August pushing the mercury above 36 Degrees Celsius in parts of Bangladesh, particularly in its north-western part.

But it was also true of the north-eastern tea valley district of Srimangal, nestled among the forest-clad hills that induce rainfall. It experienced the highest maximum temperature of 35.5C yesterday.

The day also saw Dhaka city having its maximum temperature of 35.2C yesterday after 34 C on Thursday.

The reason for August heat was the slowing down of the rains, despite some low pressures forming in the Bay that usually lend muscle to the monsoon.

But the low pressures instead of adding to the rainfall, drove clouds away towards the north-western Odisha coast, as it happened last week. The result was there was very little rain across the country.