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Thunderstorms kills over 65 in four states; flights, metro halted in Delhi, more squalls likely, warns Met office

By FnF Correspondent | PUBLISHED: 14, May 2018, 11:49 am IST | UPDATED: 14, May 2018, 12:54 pm IST

Thunderstorms kills over 65 in four states; flights, metro halted in Delhi, more squalls likely, warns Met office New Delhi: The weather office has warned of more thunderstorms in north, north-east and parts of south India for the next two days after Sunday's thunderstorm and dust storm left behind a trail of destruction in four states, killing at least 65 people and injuring many.

Thirty nine people have died in Uttar Pradesh alone, while 12 including children were killed in West Bengal on Sunday.

The storm brought down walls, uprooted trees and snapped power connection in many regions. More than 70 incoming flights were diverted from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport last evening. The violent weather affected train and metro services in Delhi and its suburbs.

The western disturbance that is bringing moisture from Eurasian water bodies and north and northwest India, including the hilly states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal and Uttarakhand, and in the plains of Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, will continue to affect the weather in this region on Tuesday.

Some parts of the hilly northern states can expect hail and isolated areas of Rajasthan could witness dust storms on Monday and Tuesday.

Residents of Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh can expect relief from strong, widespread thunderstorms by Wednesday but weaker thunderstorms, scattered rain and gusty winds may occur in some areas for the rest of the week.

In the south, Telangana, Rayalaseema, interior areas of south Karnataka and Tamil Nadu and Puducherry are likely to see thunderstorm activity on Monday. On Tuesday the thunderstorm activity will be restricted to Odisha and south interior Karnataka.

On Sunday, more than 57 people were killed and many injured as severe storms accompanied by heavy rain, lightning and gusty winds swept through large swathes of the country. The deaths were reported in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Two people were killed as a powerful dust storm and rain lashed Delhi, where flight services and road traffic were disrupted. Twenty-one people, including a tourist from Maharashtra, died and 28 were injured due to inclement weather conditions, according to reports.

In West Bengal, 12 deaths, including that of four children, were reported from different districts of the state.

News agency PTI reported that nine people died due to lightning and three were injured in Srikakulam and Kadapa districts of Andhra Pradesh. Officials said seven people were killed in Srikakulam district alone.
According to the TOI report, the dust storm on Sunday evening not only caused disruption around Delhi-NCR roads but also impacted flight operations in a major way. Over 70 flights were diverted from IGI airport and several departures were affected after runway operations had to be shut down due to “wind shear”.

According to the Met department, this was the highest number of diversions in a single day in the past ten years, including fog-related diversions during winters.

The Met department said pilots reported “wind shear” — a sudden change of wind velocity and/or direction — while attempting to land. Low-level turbulence, associated with thunderstorms, is hazardous for aircraft trying to take off or land. It can lead to issues like turbulence, sudden changes in altitude and speed.

“Five to six aircrafts, which attempted to land, had to abort their landing or go around because of the wind shear at 2,000-4,000 feet. Pilots also experienced cross winds while landing at IGI. This peak weather activity, between 4.30pm to around 8pm, impacted both take-offs and landings severely. We have never reported such bad weather in any summer storm in the last eight to ten years,” said a Met official.

A senior pilot said that planes facing strong wind shear during approach or landing should, among many things, opt for takeoff-go-around. Given the dangers of landing amid wind shear, airlines opt to reject landing in such situations and divert. Diversions were reported to Amritsar, Jaipur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Dehradun, Udaipur and Ahmedabad, sources said.

According to the airport Met department, runway operations had to be shut down as wind speed ranged between 70-80km/hr. Even after runway operations resumed, delays continued as flights had to wait for their ‘slot’ to land or take-off.

Airlines meanwhile took to Twitter to inform passengers of the flight delays and diversions.

A number of passengers travelling to Delhi were, however, kept waiting at other airports for a few hours. “I was traveling from Mumbai to Delhi when the storm hit the city. The pilot, meanwhile, announced that due of the squall, they would have to make the landing at Ahmedabad airport,” said Ketki Lama.

The met department had warned of the storms last week.

On May 2, powerful thunderstorms and dust storms caused over 140 deaths mostly concentrated in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, which was blamed on a confluence of factors: Easterly winds, unusually high temperatures and the effect of a western disturbance.

Here are the top updates on weather and thunderstorms in the country:

  •     Nearly 100 houses were gutted in a fire which broke out due to lightning in UP's Sambhal. Nine people were killed in Andhra Pradesh, officials said.
  •     This morning, pictures showed a tree that had fallen on one of the vehicles of BJP lawmaker and actor Hema Malini's convoy in UP's Mathura. 122 storm-related deaths have been reported in the state in the last 12 days alone.
  •     Thunderstorm and dust storm with wind speeds of up to 70 km per hour are "very likely" today in 26 districts of UP, the Met department said. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is taking stock of the situation in the state and has asked officials to give compensation to the families of those who died within 24 hours, Relief Commissioner Sanjay Kumar said.
  •     In West Bengal, at least 12 people, including four children, were killed and over 15 injured by lightning bolts and heavy rain yesterday. The four children had stepped out to pick fallen mangoes when they were struck by lightning.
  •     Five people were killed in Delhi and its adjoining areas as a powerful dust storm swept through the National Capital Region, uprooting trees that fell on vehicles and caused traffic snarls.
  •     Delhi Metro services were hampered too. Thousands of commuters were stuck on the busy Blue Line, which links Dwarka in north-west Delhi to Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh, for almost 45 minutes. The trains were then slowed down as a precaution.
  •     "Saddened by the loss of lives due to storms in some parts of the country. Condolences to the bereaved families. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured," Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.
  •     The Met office said the storm was a result of western disturbances over Jammu and Kashmir and cyclonic circulation over Haryana. An east-west trough from Haryana to Nagaland and easterly winds from Bay of Bengal are raising wind speed.
  •     Sunday's devastation comes just over a week after 124 people died due to strong thunderstorms and gusty winds that swept across several states including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
  •     Last week, schools in Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh were closed and extra precaution taken after the weather office predicted a huge storm across 13 states The storm, however, turned out to be far lower in intensity.
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