May 26, 2022

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Heavy rain in late winter hits life all over

Heavy rain in late winter hits life all over

Crops to face damage, 15km tailback in Tangail, rain to continue

An incessant daylong late-winter rain, accompanied by cold winds rising up to 30 kilometres per hour at times, and thunder-strikes disrupted life across Bangladesh on Wednesday.

While wage earners bore the brunt of the highly unusual rain at this time of the year, early summer and winter croppers will bear its consequences, too, in terms of reduced or delayed output of crops.

Hawkers and small businesses, who rely on weekend sales for most of their income, had a frustrating day as people chose to stay indoors because of the cold winter rain unless it was really important for them to go out.

Though the rain thinned the people’s presence on city streets, those using highways, too, suffered a lot due to slowed traffic movement, leading to severe congestions at road bottlenecks such as the Bangabandhu Bridge.

In just 12 hours from 6:00am, the south-western district of Khulna recorded 45mm rainfall while the northern districts of Dinajpur and Rangpur saw over 30mm showers during the same time, according to the Bangladesh Meteorological Department.

Local Met Offices in the districts of Rajshahi, Ishwardi, Bogura, Gopalganj, Chuadnaga and Satkhira recorded 20mm or higher rainfalls.

Dhaka saw 11mm rain.

‘So much rain so early in February is extremely rare,’ senior meteorologist Abdul Mannan told New Age, adding that rain is likely to continue in a similar manner today.

The spell of the rain seems the worst this winter frequented by showers every now and then thanks to an unusual, continued supply of moisture from the Bay of Bengal.

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The moisture-rich air is colliding with dry, cold air resulting in the increased winter rain this year. In Bangladesh winter lasts three months from December.

The rain came amid early-summer vegetable growers sowing their seeds in the field and winter croppers harvesting their produces such as mustard, potato and lentil.

‘The water will surely ruin vegetable seeds under the soil in the field,’ said Nazim Uddin, a senior scientific officer at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute, surprised by the rain at this time of February.

The incessant rain is likely to leave fields largely soaked, with water stagnated at places, he said, delaying the cultivation of early summer vegetables and ruining winter crops such as potato and mustard.

In a special advisory, the Department of Agricultural Extension asked farmers to drain their fields in order to save crops sensitive to water stagnation.

‘Lentil production may also be affected by the rain and early-mango growers may see reasons to get upset as well,’ said DAE director general Benozir Alam.

If the rain continues and the sky remains overcast for more days, agriculturists warned, late blight may also strike.

The sky was so heavily cloudy on Friday that the day’s afternoon wore the look of night, with rain falling intermittently.

A cold wind, which the BMD said rose up to 12km an hour, blew ceaselessly making it difficult to venture outdoors.

The rain came just days after a cold wave tore through the country, especially impacting the poor, who depend on outdoor activities for their livelihood.

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‘My rickshaw rent a day is Tk 500, which I surely won’t be able to pay today,’ Hazrat Ali, a rickshaw-puller, told the New Age staff correspondent in Rajshahi.

Streets in Rajshahi city, like other cities in the country, wore a desolate look as rain started even before the day dawned.

Sushil, a mobile tea vendor in the Rail Gate area of Rajshahi, looked dejected as he moved around, shivering.

‘I have earned only Tk 50 by selling tea in the morning whereas my average morning income is Tk 200,’ said Sushil on Friday noon.

Visiting several areas of the city, including New Market, Saheb Bazar and Rail Gate areas, a small number of people and vehicles were seen on the roads.

Hazrat Ali, a rickshaw-puller from New Market area, told New Age that people had not come out of houses since morning due to the rain.

‘It will be very difficult for me to pay the rent of Tk 500 to the owner,’ he added.

Several people were also seen sitting on roadsides at various points of the city for work.

Rajshahi saw rain only once in February last year and that was not much.

The New Age correspondent in Tngail reported that a 15-km-long traffic congestion was caused by the rain because of slowed movement of vehicles over the Bangabandhu Bridge.

The congestion stretched from Elenga to Rasul area.

The Kurigram New Age correspondent reported that labourers were seen pathetically moving around in the town soaking in the rain as they missed work.

Akbar Ali, a farmer, said that he braved the last cold wave every day to go to the field but could not do so amid the heavy rain on Friday to broadcast boro paddy seeds.

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‘We live from hand to mouth. We cannot afford having days with no work,’ said Akbar.

Bangladesh’s majority of the poor still cannot afford enough warm cloth against cold. They also mostly live in temporary shelters exposed to wind, heat and rain.

Even in capital Dhaka, the sight of barely clothed homeless people living under the open sky in every major crossings of the city is commonplace.

The New Age correspondent in Manikganj reported that the stormy weather grounded the ferry service on the Paturia–Daulatdia and Aricha–Kazirhat routes for about 30 minutes on Friday noon.

The BMD warned that the rain spell is likely to be followed by yet another cold wave.

The BMD also warned that the day temperature may fall by up to 3C in southern Bangladesh.

The country’s lowest minimum temperature of 11.7 C on Friday was recorded at Tetulia.