A powerful dust storm accompanied by rains on Sunday evening brought down the temperature in the national capital and adjoining areas, seriously disrupting air traffic and Metro services, officials said.
As the storm blew at a highest speed of 70 km per hour, the mercury crashed from 39 degrees Celsius at 4 p.m. to 25 degrees half hour later, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) told IANS. By early evening, the skies had turned dark.
Delhi Metro operations were also hit. Thousands of commuters were stuck on the winding and busy Blue Line, which links Dwarka in west Delhi to Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh, for more than 45 minutes.
In both cases, toppling trees fell and damaged overhead Metro wiring, an official spokesman said.
When the Metro services finally resumed after around two hours, the trains plied at halting speed.
The rains and storm brought down trees and tree branches in some areas and led to traffic snarls, forcing two-wheeler drivers to take shelter under bridges and flyovers. Motorists switched on headlights to find their way in the enveloping darkness.
The Delhi Fire Service said it received over 30 calls linked to falling trees and two calls related to wall collapse within two hours of the storm hitting the national capital. But no casualty was reported.
The dramatic change in weather, however, did bring respite to residents from the sweltering heat.
The Met department had forecast rain and thunderstorm with gusty winds on Sunday.
Mahesh Palawat, Director of the private weather forecast agency Skymet, told IANS that the change in weather was due to western disturbance which reached Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh on Saturday evening.
"A cyclonic circulation formed near Haryana and north Rajasthan along with the western disturbance. South-easterly and easterly winds are creating moisture and high temperature in the region which caused the formation of thunder clouds. The strom blew over a trough which is spread from north Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.
"Delhi falls within the trough, but now this will move towards western Uttar Pradesh. There is a likelihood of light rains with thunder towards the afternoon or evening for two more days. Westerly winds will form again and temperature will begin to rise after May 15," Palawat said.
The Met official said Sunday morning was the hottest of the season, with minimum temperature recorded at 30.6 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season's average.
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