Chennai cold gets worse, winter lasts for a historical high of 214 hours

Climate scientists warn that by year 2318 cold conditions may last even upto 45 days

Chennai, Feb 8: The worsening global warming phenomenon, in which summers get longer and hotter, winters longer and colder even though the years continue to have the same number of days, is having its inevitable impact on Chennai too.

According to climate scientists, this winter in Chennai has been one of the longest and the coldest lasting about 214 hours, or nearly 9 full days. A historic high for a city whose summers, in general, lasts for one-and-a-half years.

“The last time a winter stretched this long was in 1931 when most Chennai people reeled under extreme cold wave conditions for about 203 hours at which point they realised they were on a trip to North India and decided to come back to Chennai,” said scientists at WEATHER (We Are THE Researchers), the most definitive body of scientists who study climate and other allied stuff.

“This season the bar has had to be pegged higher as the winter has run for nearly 9 full days,” said Professor Eric Sandstorm, who headed the research. For 9 days, from December 27 to January 4,  Chennaiites reeled under extreme winter conditions, which in these parts means not having to switch on the airconditioner, as the mercury plumbed to the spine-chilling depths of around 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

“It was indeed tough this season. I had to wear winter clothings like cotton banian when going to sleep,” said Venkatesh Sabapathy, a resident in Mylapore, who needless to say, like most other male residents in these parts, otherwise  slept bare-bodied. Also, linen shirts qualify for thermal wear in these parts.

Ear-muffs and monkey caps, the two other ubiquitous symbols of Chennai winter, were also out in full bloom this season as old people unable to withstand the icy cold, wore them even when bathing.

But Prof Sandstorm had more bad news for Chennai residents. “In the coming years, the winters are going to get progressively worse, and will also stretch longer. By 2318, or to say in pure scientific terms, in 200 years time, Chennai will suffer extreme cold wave conditions for as long as 45 days.”

Imagine Chennai being in the grip of winter for one-and-a-half months. It is staggering. But that is what global warming is leading us into, Prof Sandstorm said.

What are the side effects of such a long winter? “Old uncles and aunties will practically go deaf because of wearing muffs for such a long time”.

How should Chennaiites tackle such a long winter by 2318? “I don’t know. But I am not taking any chances. By 2318, I plan to be dead,” Prof Sandstorm said and added “I suspect that is the only way out for most of the people. But if someone hangs around till then, they better not complain that we didn’t warn them”.

Winters will not only be longer, but colder too. “By 2318, temperature in these parts may even touch 59 degrees Fahrenheit. And it will further drop to — *shudder* — 15 degrees when you convert it to Celsius,” the professor added.

(Winters are worse when you calculate them in Celsius and summer horrors are better conveyed in Fahrenheit. It is an old journalism trope. 100 degree summer and zero degree winter is the preferred benchmark).

Prof Sandstorm said that with more funding climate research can get more precise and scientific. “The funding we get now barely covers the rudimentary needs of research, which is to pay the researchers their salaries and their travel bills.” (It is true that scientists and researchers are forever travelling for some seminar or conference. A good scientist generally clocks more air-miles than an Air India pilot. It is also a fact that an Air India pilot clocks more air-miles than an Air India aircraft).

Sandstorm added: “For actual research, we barely have any money. If we get more funding, we will invest in a state of the art thermometer that can show temperatures in both Celsius and Fahrenheit scales. Now we make do with manual conversions. But let us face it, we are also humans, and sometimes forget the conversion formula. We always get stuck whether 32 should be added or subtracted. In the event, the actual research suffers. We appeal to the patrons of science, governments and private companies to fund us liberally so that we can focus on research without any distraction  and come up with socially relevant findings like how Chennai’s winter will be in 2418”.