Dust storm or a cloudburst ?

High velocity winds combined with heavy rain sends Mumbaikars scurrying for cover


The monsoon’s parting kick sent the city reeling on Tuesday evening. Home-goers had a harrowing time as rail and well as road traffic was disrupted due to tree-falls and flooding.

The skies were clear till 6 pm and there was no indication of the storm to come. By 6.30 pm, a mass of dark clouds appeared on the horizon and a dust storm arrived.

There were heavy rains in the next 45 minutes accompanied by lightning and thunder claps. Some of the thunder claps were so loud that it seemed that a bomb had exploded on the building.

The wind was so strong that it brought rain water right into Churchgate station. At Nariman Point, it was impossible to walk a few steps to be able to enter one’s car parked in the compound.

Although the rain subsided by 7.30 pm, several parts of the city, including Hindmata and Parel, were water-logged.

According to the fire brigade, more than 1,000 trees fell in the island city and the Western suburbs, which bore the brunt of nature’s fury. This resulted in roads being blocked. At one place in Walkeshwar, the winds bent the tin barriers at a construction site and they leant on the road. However, no casualty was reported.

Train services were affected for an hour because of tree-falls and overhead wires getting hit by flying debris.

Calling rains as not unusual for this time of the year, V K Rajeev, Director (Western region) of the Meteorological department said, “Although the intensity of rainfall is severe, the actual amount of rainfall is not a lot. A combination of high temperatures and moisture in the air has resulted in this sudden spurt in rain.” He said that the city may experience rainfall tomorrow as well but it will only be confirmed after temperatures are recorded in the morning.

The traffic in the city came to a complete standstill. Areas such as Tulsi Pipe road, Senapati Bapat road, P D’Mello road, Amar Mahal junction at Chembur, Marine Drive, Princess Street flyover, Haji Ali, Tardeo AC Market, DN Road and Eastern Freeway were blocked for hours.

“Virutually the whole city is blocked as the Fire Brigade is working to remove the collapsed trees from the roads. We have deployed the whole traffic police to manage the traffic,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (Traffic), B K Upadhyay, who was at Metro Junction.

There were no services on the harbour line from CST to Kurla till 10 pm. A tree collapsed at Cotton Green station breaking the overhead wires. At Curry Road, an asbestos sheet flew off from the Currey Road booking office and fell on the pantograph of a local train, disrupting services on the main line. A total of 77 services were cancelled due to the rains.

On the Western Railway (WR) the power in the Over Head Wires between Marine Lines and Churchgate was shut for 30 minutes from 7:25 pm to 7:50 pm for cutting the branches of the trees that were touching the wires. Sunil Singh, PRO WR said, “We had cut off the power only as a precautionary measure and the fire brigade was called in. The train on the Up fast line were diverted on the Up slow line during the period.”

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