The national capital witnessed its first severe thunderstorm in four years as squally winds of 100 kmph pummeled the city on Monday evening, uprooting trees, damaging property and bringing traffic to a screeching halt.
This is the first storm of “severe” intensity in Delhi since June 9, 2018, when Palam had logged a wind speed of 104 kmph, a Met department official said. A moderate thunderstorm had hit the city last Monday.
The thunderstorm led to a drastic fall in the temperature at the Safdarjung Observatory — from 40 degrees Celsius at 4:20 pm to 25 degrees Celsius at 5:40 pm.
Safdarjung, Lodhi Road and Ridge logged 17.8 mm, 20 mm and 15 mm of rainfall. East and central parts of Delhi bore the maximum brunt of the storm that peppered the roads with broken tree branches.
People at several locations across the city shared reports about the strong winds snapping power and internet cables, throwing parts of the capital into chaos.
The intense storm damaged old, vulnerable structures and under-construction buildings. The historic Jama Masjid in the walled city area lost the finial of its main dome as it withered the fury of the storm.
At least five flights were diverted and 70 delayed at the Delhi airport, while long, serpentine queues of vehicles clogged the arterial roads in the city.
Loud thunder, lightning strikes and a short, intense spell of rain accompanied the gusty winds.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) attributed it to a Western Disturbance-induced cyclonic circulation over northwest Rajasthan and adjoining Pakistan.
The moisture-carrying easterly winds from the Bay of Bengal are feeding the cyclonic circulation, it said.
High temperature and high humidity create thunderclouds which are capable of producing short, intense spells of rain and thunderstorms, an official said.
The Indira Gandhi International Airport reported winds gusting up to 100 kmph. The Palam weather station logged a maximum wind speed of 70 kmph.
A trough extending from northwest Rajasthan to Assam will persist for a few days.
Some parts of Delhi are likely to see intermittent thunder activity over the next few days which will keep the mercury in check, said Mahesh Palawat, vice president (climate change and meteorology), Skymet Weather.
Heatwave is unlikely in Delhi for a week, he said.