People push an autorickshaw through a waterlogged street following heavy rains, near ITO in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
People push an autorickshaw through a waterlogged street following heavy rains, near ITO in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)

When it rains, it pours: Large parts of Delhi submerged, temperature drops 8°C

The city received 69.6mm of rain in 24 hours, a spell that led to the temperature dropping to 26.5 degrees Celsius, down from 36.4°C the previous day, and eight degrees below normal for this time of year.
By Vatsala Shrangi, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 20, 2021 05:36 AM IST

After a weeks-long wait, the hot, humid days in the national capital on Monday gave way to the season’s first spell of heavy rain, which proved a nightmare for motorists and commuters across the city, but pulled the mercury down by eight degrees, and broke the weather office’s spell of inaccurate forecasts.

At least two drowning deaths in city amid rain

The city received 69.6mm of rain in 24 hours, a spell that led to the temperature dropping to 26.5 degrees Celsius, down from 36.4°C the previous day, and eight degrees below normal for this time of year. In fact, Delhi’s daytime temperature on Monday was the lowest for the season since July 30, 2014, when the mercury dipped to 24.9°C. The minimum on Monday was 24.2°C, three degrees below normal.

The showers started early on Monday morning, and continued throughout the day.

According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the Safdarjung observatory, the official marker for the city’s weather, received nearly 70mm rainfall between 8.30am on Sunday and 8.30am on Monday. From then onwards, the city received another 38.4mm of rain (classified as “moderate”) till 5.30pm.

The Palam weather station recorded 99.3 mm 24-hour rainfall and 66.6 mm rain during the day. Lodhi Road station got 62 mm 24-hour rainfall while recording 34.1 mm during the day. Ridge and Aya Nagar stations recorded 58 and 51 mm 24-hour rainfall. These stations got 45.8 mm and 39.8 mm rainfall during the day.

Showers wreak havoc in Millennium City

The monsoon arrived in Delhi on July 13, after a 16-day delay, and a series of inaccurate forecasts by the Met department. After moderate showers on the first two days of its onset, the city got only “traces” of rainfall, despite predictions of light rain and thundershowers, and an “orange alert” that was issued for the weekend.

After Monday’s dip, IMD officials said the temperature is likely to rise over the next few days.

“Light rainfall is likely on Tuesday as well. However, the activity will slow down thereafter and may pick up again on July 23-24,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head, regional weather forecasting centre, IMD.

Independent weather forecasters said that with Monday’s rainfall, Delhi’s overall rain deficit of the monsoon season is 3%. “Between June 1 and July 19, Delhi recorded 180.4mm rain against the normal of 185.3mm,” said Mahesh Palawat, vice president (meteorology and climate change) at Skymet Weather, a private forecaster.

However, Srivastava said rain at the Safdarjung observatory is now in the green for the month. “With the rainfall on Monday, July has received 220.4mm rainfall, while the normal for this month is 210mm rainfall,” he said.

The rain brought traffic to a standstill at several arterial roads during the rush hours.

Delhi Traffic Police said that in many areas, the early morning showers that continued throughout the day led to roads being inundated. While traffic was diverted at several places, some areas were barricaded because of a portion of the road caving in.

There are around 150 waterlogging-prone stretches across the city, of which civic authorities consider five crucial — Minto Bridge, Pul Prahladpur, Zakhira, Moolchand and Peeragarhi.

The Pul Prahladpur underpass was blocked for traffic after water started accumulating in it around 7.30am. “Eight pumps have been installed at the site and water was still being pumped out of the spot in the evening,” said a senior PWD official requesting anonymity.

Traffic police data showed that 51 key stretches, most of which are from the list of flood-prone areas, were inundated and pumps were put to use. These include Vasant Kunj underpass, DND-Ashram, Cariappa Marg, Sarai Kale Khan to Barapullah, Mehrauli-Badarpur Road, Pul Prahladpur, Dwarka Link Road, Okhla Mandi, Lajpat Nagar Metro station, Mayapuri Metro station, Adchini, Spinal Injury Hospital, IP Estate and Tilak Nagar, among others.

Residential colonies including Greater Kailash, Hauz Khas, East of Kailash, CR Park, Kailash Colony, RK Puram, Green Park, Alaknanda apartments, Saket, Jasola, Janakpuri, Karol Bagh, Pitampura and Laxmi Nagar reported incidents of waterlogging on the day.

Civic bodies directed blame at PWD and the state’s irrigation and flood control (I&FC) department.

“We have only four-feet-deep drains under our purview. We have completed de-silting ahead of the monsoon. These drains flow into the bigger drains under the PWD and I&FC that are not being cleaned,” said East corporation mayor Shyam Sundar Agrawal.

A second PWD official said: “When there is a heavy downpour, areas get flooded and it takes some time for water to recede. The city’s drainage system has its own limitations and long-term plans are underway to improve the same.”

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