Home » Storm brings heat relief, civic nightmare to Capital | Latest News Delhi

Storm brings heat relief, civic nightmare to Capital | Latest News Delhi

Storm brings heat relief, civic nightmare to Capital | Latest News Delhi


New Delhi: The Capital woke up to intense showers and gusty winds which touched 75kmph, leading to flight disruptions, power outages, waterlogging, and traffic jams caused by the flooding and fallen trees.

The much-needed rains, which weather experts say may have broken the hold of the successive heatwaves Delhi has seen since March, also came after an extended dry spell. And they proved another axiom about the Capital right: it doesn’t matter how delayed the pre-monsoon showers are, Delhi will still not be prepared for them.

Neighbouring Gurugram fared no better, and its administration moved quickly to prevent another monstrous jam (such as the one seen in July of 2016, where thousands were stranded on the Delhi-Gurugram expressway for more than 12 hours due to heavy rain) by issuing an advisory suggesting companies get their people to use a popular Covid-19 measure: work from home, or WFH.

The wind and the rains took Delhi’s minimum temperature to the lowest on any day in May since at least 2004. The Safdarjung weather station recorded a minimum temperature of 17.2 degrees Celsius (°C). At one point, between 5.40am and 7am, the temperature fell by 11°C.

The rains, and the resulting chaos also proved the first major challenge for the unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), whose two top-office bearers were only announced late last week, and which was expected to spend the early part of this week on internal restructuring — after all, it has three of everything (after the merger of the three MCDs into one). The Bharatiya Janata Party-led MCDs have spent the past several weeks in limbo, waiting for the merger, and continuing to spar with Delhi’s elected Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government.

On Sunday, a day before the waterlogging, the AAP held a press conference and claimed drains accounting for 95% of the Capital’s drainage system were yet to be desilted. In response, MCD said 66% of the work was over, some 60,000 tonnes of silt had been removed; and that the work would be completed by mid-June. But to modify the popular adage, the proof of the desilting is in the flooding.

However, the Delhi government’s Public Works Department (PWD) — it handles major arterial roads in the Capital while the MCDs handle internal roads — got shown up as well, as several key stretches were clogged with water throughout the morning. These included the IIT Delhi intersection, Pul Prahaladpur underpass Hauz Khas, Rao Tula Ram Road flyover near Vasant Vihar, and Ashram Chowk.

A large number of trees fell at multiple places on account of the heavy winds, damaging cars in some cases, and blocking roads in others, adding to the chaos.

The wind and the rain forced 20 flights to Delhi to be diverted to nearby airports, and delayed another 100 flights, with the cascading effect continuing till later afternoon, and being felt in other airports too. All diversions occurred between 6:30am and 9pm, with 13 flights diverted to Jaipur, two each to Lucknow and Amritsar and one each to Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Indore.

If no one was complaining too much it was because of the respite provided by the rain and the wind. Safdarjung recorded 12.3mm of rainfall between 5.30am and 8.30 am on Monday, with strong easterly winds leading to a sharp drop in mercury. Delhi’s minimum temperature was recorded at 17.2°C on Monday – nine degrees below normal and the lowest minimum for May in the last 18 years. The last time it was lower was on May 1, 2004, when it fell to 16.7°C. The maximum was recorded at 31.5°C, eight degrees below normal and a drop of 7.8 degrees in comparison to Sunday.

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According to the India Meteorological Department , wind speeds remained between 40 and 55 kmph between 6am and 8am, touching a peak of 75 kmph at the Delhi airport at 6:56 am.

“One of the key impacts of this spell was the sharp drop in surface temperature as a result of these strong winds and rain. This spell is now likely to have a cooling effect for the next few days too, keeping heat wave conditions away until May 29 at least,” said RK Jenamani, scientist at IMD.

While such summer storms are not unusual, this year, Delhi has not seen any . “This is the first moderate to high intensity storm of the season. We consider summer season from March 1 onwards and while the normal occurrence for thunderstorm days from March until May end are 12 to 14, this year, we have only seen 4 to 5 such days. They too have mostly been dry thunder spells,” Jenamani added.

More rain is expected early on Tuesday. IMD has issued a yellow alert for Tuesday, forecasting very light rain and gusty winds of up to 60 km/hr. “Another spell of light rain will hit Delhi NCR late on Monday night and in the early hours of Tuesday. This will continue into the morning, providing another low minimum temperature and wind speeds around 50-60 km/hr,” an IMD official said, asking not to be named.

On Monday, the Delhi Police said that they received 62 police control room calls regarding uprooted of trees; MCD received 40 calls.

Delhi Fire Services Director Atul Garg said four “house collapse” calls were also received in the early hours of Monday, including one in Jwalapuri where three persons sustained minor injuries, one at Shankar Road where two persons sustained minor injuries, one from Moti Nagar where three persons sustained minor injuries and another from Gokulpuri where no injuries were reported. MCD received seven calls on collapsed buildings.

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