Waterlogging at Prahladpur after a heavy rain spell, in New Delhi on May 20, 2021. (Amal KS/HT Photo)
Waterlogging at Prahladpur after a heavy rain spell, in New Delhi on May 20, 2021. (Amal KS/HT Photo)

Delhi gets highest 24-hr rain for May

The spell of rainfall was so heavy that it surpassed what is generally received in the entire month, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. The last time Delhi saw more rain in all of May was in 2008, when the city recorded 165mm rain in the entire month.
By Soumya Pillai, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAY 21, 2021 07:42 AM IST

Over 119mm of incessant rainfall, induced by cyclonic storm Tauktae and a western disturbance, lashed Delhi in the 24 hours to 8.30am on Thursday, breaking the Capital’s all-time 24-hour rainfall record for the month of May.

The spell of rainfall was so heavy that it surpassed what is generally received in the entire month, according to India Meteorological Department (IMD) data. The last time Delhi saw more rain in all of May was in 2008, when the city recorded 165mm rain in the entire month.

IMD said that in the 24 hours till 8.30am on Thursday, Delhi recorded 119.3mm rainfall, which was around twice the rain recorded on a “regular” monsoon day – around 55-65mm. The rain and the gusty winds also led to the pollution levels in the city dropping to “satisfactory” levels on Wednesday for the first time since September 23, 2020, or after a gap of 238 days, according to Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) recordings.

Kuldeep Srivastava, head of IMD’s regional weather forecasting centre, said that till 8.30pm on Wednesday, Delhi had also recorded 60mm rainfall, which was equivalent to the previous all time record lodged on May 24, 1976. “The rainfall activity intensified at night and by 8.30am on Thursday, Delhi had received 119.3mm rainfall, which broke the all-time (24-hour) record for May,” he said.

The rain continued to give Delhi residents a cool summer with the maximum temperature at Safdarjung weather station, which is considered the official marker for the city, touching 31.4 degrees Celsius, nine degrees below what is considered normal this time of the year. The minimum temperature was also 19.3 degrees Celsius, seven degrees below normal.

An unusually high number of western disturbances in March, April and now in May has subdued the searing heat normally felt in the city and north India through April and May, IMD has said.

Scientists explained that rainfall activity began in parts of Delhi and the National Capital Region (NCR) from Tuesday night under the residual impact of cyclone Tauktae. “The heavy rainfall was the impact of the remnant of cyclone Tauktae. Only such rare weather phenomenon can do this in peak summer in Delhi,” said Rajendra Kumar Jenamani, senior scientist, IMD.

According to weather expert Navdeep Dahiya, the cyclone-induced rainfall also broke records in several cities, including Gurugram that recorded 100mm rainfall (previous record of 58mm on May 2, 1987), Meerut recorded 86mm (previous record of 64.3 on May 29, 1886), Varanasi recorded 83mm (previous record of 55mm on May 2, 1969), Narnaul at 77mm (previous record of 60.3mm on May 14, 1982) and Sultanpur at 73.4mm (previous record of 70.5mm on May 25, 1970).

Cyclone Tauktae that intensified into an “extremely severe cyclonic storm” made landfall on Gujarat coast late on Monday evening with wind speed between 150kmph and 160kmph.

CPCB data shows that the air quality also drastically improved following the day-long rainfall. The overall air quality index (AQI) of Delhi on Thursday was 58, in the ‘satisfactory’ category. On Wednesday, the overall AQI was 78, also in the ‘satisfactory’ zone.

While the rain brought relief from the heat and pollution, it also wreaked havoc on the city’s infrastructure, which could not match the intensity of the downpour.

Late on Wednesday night, a portion of road at Khaira Road Dhansa Stand metro station in Najafgarh caved-in after a drainpipe burst due to excess flow of rainwater. The cave-in caused partial damage to an adjacent building, and a truck fell into the crater, but was pulled out without anyone getting hurt.

“Repair work of the caved-in portion is in progress and all efforts shall be made to complete the work at the earliest. DMRC is now filling the road with additional concrete to avoid the recurrence of this problem in the future,” the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said in a statement.

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