Trying to cope with the heat wave, a chital dips in a tank inside its enclosure at Dhaka Zoo yesterday. Photo: Sk Enamul Haq
The country has been left bone dry and hungry for electricity to cool off due to an alarming drop in rainfall and a mild heat wave sweeping through several districts.
The first month of Bangla new year Baishakh, beginning on April 14, ushered in no nor'westers or rainfall in Dhaka. The Met office sees very little possibility of rain in the next three-four days in and around Dhaka. Mercury might rise even higher.
Meteorologist Abdur Rahman of Bangladesh Meteorological Department said lack of rain over the last few days was the main reason for the hot weather but it was not “unusual”.
However, the country had 66 percent less than average rain last month, according to the Met office.
Dhaka had just around 61 millimetres of rain in the last 18 days when the average rainfall in April is 147mm.
The Met office believes that there might be one or two lows in the Bay of Bengal this month with the possibility of one cyclone and there may be rain next week.
The highest temperature in Dhaka recorded in April 2013 was 37 degrees Celsius but yesterday's temperature was 37.7 degrees Celsius, the highest this month.
The sultry weather was taking a toll on the power supply. Although the Power Development Board (PDB) says it had enough power to meet all demands, different areas of the country were getting power outages.
A PDB official said several local power distribution systems were frequently overheating by the high demand and they were shutting down to cool off.
A PDB director said, “Even a month ago, the electricity demand during non-peak day time hovered around 4,500 megawatts and it would shoot up to 7,000MW during the peak hours in the evening. We have been supplying that amount of power all along.
“But for the last few days, the demand during the day was hovering around 6,500MW, a 2,000MW jump from that of a month ago. This happened because everyone is running their fans and ACs,” he explained.
Continuous high consumption of electricity was putting pressure on substations not properly equipped to deliver this kind of power. This was why operators of many substations under the Dhaka Electric Supply Company (Desco), PDB and the Rural Electrification Boards (REB) were shutting down their equipment temporarily to avoid malfunction, which was leading to power supply disruptions.
The PDB has been supplying over 7,000MW of power since March, thanks to various stop-gap initiatives of the government, including diverting natural gas from fertiliser plants to gas-based power plants, and import of 500MW electricity from India.
In July last year, the PDB achieved zero load-shedding by supplying 6,675MW power.
“Until Ramadan, we will keep this optimised power generation by diverting gas from fertiliser factories,” said the PDB director.
According to the Met office, a mild to moderate heat wave is sweeping over Dhaka, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Khulna divisions and the regions of Rangamati, Sylhet, Barisal and Patuakhali and it may continue for the next few days.
There might be rain in Mymensingh, Sylhet, Comilla tonight or tomorrow.
The highest temperature of April 2013 was 41.5 degrees Celsius in Chuadanga while yesterday's highest temperature was 40.5 degrees Celsius in Rangamati, also the highest in 2014.
The high temperature and poor rainfall were taking a toll on agriculture with almost a drought-like situation in many areas of the country.