Midsummer rain throws life out of gear

May 21st, 2008 - 1:19 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 21 (IANS) Waterlogged roads, traffic backed up for miles and stalled cars robbed Delhiites of the joy of the unexpected overnight rain Wednesday. The midsummer rain also brought to the fore concerns about whether it was one of the effects of climate change. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the freaky weather was due to two mini-cyclones, one over Rajasthan and adjoining areas of Pakistan, and the other over Himachal Pradesh and northern Haryana.

The rain affected flights at Delhi airport, though officials said Wednesday morning they were still compiling figures of the number of take-offs and landings delayed.

Train services were also affected, with the morning Chandigarh-New Delhi Shatabdi Express stopped on the tracks due to engine failure and other trains running slow.

On the road, things were no better with commuters stuck for hours, roads getting waterlogged and some even getting off their car and walking to their destination in the pouring rain.

Scientists started speculating if the unusual weather was one of the effects of climate change. While all of them said there was not enough data to say anything with certainty, Mario D’Souza of the think tank Centre for Science and Environment pointed out that weather extremes were one of the fallouts of global warming predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in its seminal 2007 report.

IMD’s Delhi head S.C. Bhan said the rainfall was still within the “normal” range. Since there was no extreme weather event, there was no way to correlate the mini-cyclones to climate change, said another IMD expert who did not want to be identified.

Asked about the effect of the current weather on the all-important monsoon wind that largely determines India’s annual farm output, the expert said the mini-cyclones were still too local and too small to have any long-term effect.

But he was worried about the effect a newly-developing low-pressure area in the southern Arabian Sea may have on the monsoon wind. That weather system may develop into a cyclone and move northwest towards the Arabian peninsula.

Keeping the worries aside, residents of north India who did not have to go out of home had a wonderful break from the heat and dust. In Delhi, the maximum temperature Tuesday fell to 29 degrees Celsius, a full 12 degrees below average. With the minimum at 20 and a moist cool breeze blowing, there was no need for air-conditioning.

The met office has predicted that the current spell of wet and windy weather will continue till Friday in Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and western Uttar Pradesh.

The prediction includes the possibility of hailstorms, which may be ruinous for the mango crop that has already been affected by the wet weather.

Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim and the northeast are also likely to have widespread rainfall for the rest of the week.

The weatherman says the first monsoon wind has reached western and southern India, though it is still weak. But due to this, the current heat wave in Andhra Pradesh is likely to abate by the weekend.

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