Record rain wreaks havoc in Delhi; roads, airport flooded
Delhi woke up to waterlogged streets and traffic snarls on Saturday as heavy rainfall pummelled the city with 81.3mm mm rainfall in just three hours between 5.30 and 8.30am.
Driven by Saturday’s rain — the Safdarjung observatory received 124.2 mm rainfall till 5.30pm — monsoon this year broke a 46-year-old record. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the city has received 1136.8mm rain so far, making it the wettest monsoon after 1975 when the season recorded 1155.6 mm rainfall.
The all-time record, from 1933, stands at 1420.3 mm, according to IMD.
The unusual monsoon this year has set another record — after 1944, which had the rainiest September on record, this year’s September has so far reported the most rainfall. With a good part of the month still left, this year’s September could become the rainiest since 1901, the year when earliest rainfall data is available.In just 11 days, the city has recorded 380.2mm rainfall, according to data. In September 1944, the city received 417.3mm rain.
According to scientists, Delhi has witnessed seven heavy rain events (64.4mm rainfall and above) this year, the highest ever. Normally, Delhi records just one or two such events in the entire season, between June 1 and September 30.
“For the Safdarjung weather station, considered the official marker for the city, we have weather recordings since 1901. This season we have received 1136.8 mm rainfall, which is the highest after 1975 when the seasonal rainfall recording was 1155.6 mm. This monsoon has already featured in the list of the top five wettest seasons. We might break more records but we will have to wait for the final rainfall data,” said RK Jenamani, senior IMD scientist.
Skymet Weather, a private weather forecasting agency, cited two reasons for record breaking rains this month — “a likely late withdrawal of the monsoon and formation of low pressure systems in quick succession”.
“In case of late withdrawal of the monsoon, the moist air mass persists for longer durations, goes far beyond its reach and rains over parts of Rajasthan, Delhi and Haryana,” GP Sharma, president (meteorology), Skymet Weather, said.
“Secondly, low pressure systems are forming in quick succession. We are not even halfway through the month and we have already had two good systems. In August, we had only one such system,” he said.
Despite monsoon arriving in Delhi on July 13, making it the most-delayed in 19 years, the capital recorded 16 rainy days in the month, the maximum in the last four years.
The string of rainy days gave 507.1 mm rainfall in Delhi, which was nearly 141% above the long-period average (LPA) of 210.6 mm. It was also the maximum rainfall in the month since July 2003, and the second highest ever.
The city recorded just 10 rainy days in August, the lowest in seven years, and a cumulative rainfall of 214.5 mm, lower than the average of 247 mm.
Saturday’s rainfall led to heavy waterlogging across the city, with even the Delhi airport being inundated with rainwater in scenes similar to 2019 when the forecourt of the Indira Gandhi International airport was flooded.
Airport authorities said at least 100 flights were delayed and five diverted after the early morning showers left the area outside terminal 3 of the airport with knee-deep water.
Videos circulated on social media showed cars submerged in water in the forecourt and people either wading through the water to reach the entry gate of the airport or standing on raised areas to avoid water.
However, with waterlogging restricted to the arrivals area of the terminal, officials said no passengers were stuck or missed their flight. Water started collecting in the area outside the airport exit gates around 7.30 am and was cleared “within half-an-hour as the entire staff got together to get the situation under control”, airport officials said.
Many arterial stretches, including some underpasses, in the national capital were closed off and vehicural movement was diverted to alternate routes.
Among the worst-hit stretches were Azadpur underpass, Pul Prahladpur, Palam underpass, Delhi Cantonment, Moti Bagh, Rani Khera underpass, Dwarka sector-20, GT Karnal Road, Malviya Nagar, and Dwarka link road.
At least three instances of people getting trapped inside vehicles on waterlogged roads were received by the Delhi Fire Services, officials said.
A portion of a wall at the Dwarka metro station also collapsed under the impact of the heavy rains. No injuries were reported in the incident.
“Because of the heavy showers early in the morning, a portion of the wall at the entrance of Dwarka metro station collapsed. But no one was harmed. That exit gate was closed and passenger movement continued as usual through other gates,” a Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) spokesperson said.
Nearly 10 instances of trees falling were reported in the city.
Met officials have said more rainfall is likely in Delhi-NCR in the next 48 hours.
(With agency inputs)