Like it or not, storms like nor’westers will come every year without notice. Instead of cursing the weather, we can minimise related problems by taking early steps for clogged drains, pot-holed roads, overgrown tree branches and fragile structures.
For centuries famed poets have eulogised these storms in numerous popular poems and songs written on the fearsome beauty of these storms. As such the people of Bengal are familiar with the weather system and more or less mentally prepared for the stormy season as soon as Boishakk, the first month of Bangla calendar, arrives.The season of thunderstorms, hailstorms and nor’westers in Bangladesh usually starts from mid-April, coinciding with the start of Boishakh. Nor’westers are thunderstorms that generally blows over the entire country from a north-westerly direction, corresponding with Boishakh, thus the storms during this time are locally known as Kaal Boishakhi or the ‘Misfortune of Boishakh’.
Although Boishakh is still a couple of days away, yet every day the country is being hit by ferocious Kaal Boishakhis creating havoc due to its early arrival, an effect of climate change. Two weeks ahead of Boishakh, a sudden marauding storm hit Dhaka on 31 March, uprooting trees, sinking boats, blowing away roofs and flattening fields of almost ready-to-harvest crops. Six people were killed in capital Dhaka alone.
City-life literally comes to a standstill every time the Kaal Boishakhi accompanied by heavy rains and hails hits the capital creating traffic chaos as roads are flooded or shut by falling trees, electrical poles or bill boards. For a nation which has a poetic name for seasonal storms, it’s a shame that we are so ill-prepared to face this annual phenomenon. The drains in the cities get clogged by the piled up garbage on road sides, dust flies around and overflowing drains flood streets as well as homes in many areas.
The city father must be prepared in advance for surprise storms by ensuring easy flow of water out of the city and post-storm emergency services must be alert. The other important requirement is to arm the street cleaners with wheel barrows so that their hard work does not go in vain when rains wash them back into the streets and drains.