Residents were pleasantly surprised when sudden rains lashed parts of the city on Sunday afternoon. Their delight however, was marred by the resultant massive traffic snarls on various arterial roads.
While Sunday morning dawned hot and humid, the weather took a turn for the better as the day proceeded. An overcast sky in the city’s suburbs brought the temperature down, and a gentle breeze late in the afternoon had it dipping further. At 3.30 p.m., the skies opened up.
Accompanied by strong winds, thunder and lightning, the rains poured down over the city’s southern suburbs for nearly two hours.
The Meenambakkam weather observatory recorded 9.1 cm of rain, with Madhavaram recording 4.8 cm, Kolapakkam 3.9 cm, Taramani 2. 6 cm and Anna University 2 cm. Areas including Kodambakkam, Vadapalani and Gopalapuram also recorded small amounts of rain.
Though they cooled the city, the showers led to traffic chaos on Jawaharlal Nehru Salai near Ashok Pillar and on Grand Southern Trunk Road near Tambaram.
Many motorists and pedestrians, who were caught unawares, were thoroughly drenched.
Added to this was poor visibility, leading to motorists switching on their headlights as early as 3.45 p.m.
G. Kannan, a resident of Vadapalani, said the rain brought traffic to a standstill near the Pillar and in Vadapalani. “I normally cross the Pillar junction in about 2-3 minutes but it took me 20-30 minutes to cross that stretch at 7.30 p.m.” he said.
In Chromepet, residents said GST Road opposite the police station was flooded, affecting traffic flow for a couple of hours.
Commuters getting off long-distance buses in Perungalathur were trapped, and an abandoned bus shelter came to their rescue, as they, along with passing motorcyclists sought shelter there. As more commuters arrived in Perungalathur, the crowds jostled for space inside the bus shelter and tempers ran high.
For many residents though, the showers were an unlooked-for bonus. “I did not have to water my plants today. I also filled a few buckets with rainwater that I will use tomorrow. My well would have received a considerable amount of water too,” said N. Vasanth, a resident of Mettukuppam.
Those fortunate to be indoors when the showers began, like class VII student, M. Thendral of Velachery preferred to stay in. “The first rains normally bring down a lot of atmospheric dust so I would rather get drenched in showers that come later,” My younger brother wanted to play outside, but my parents did not let him,” he said.
According to Y.E.A. Raj, deputy director general of meteorology, Chennai, the advancing southwest monsoon has triggered a lot of thunderstorm activity. Once the monsoon is established however, there will not be much rain.
“Climatologically, June is not a rainy month for Chennai or Tamil Nadu. Only about 10 per cent of our 300 weather stations will record rain in June and July. August and September will see more rain. But the monsoon has begun well with several showers over Tamil Nadu,” he said.
The forecast for Monday is a cloudy day, with rain or thundershowers in some areas. The maximum and minimum temperatures will be around 36 and 28 degree Celsius respectively.
Other parts of the city dry
Residents in many other parts of the city were left high and dry.
Nanganallur, Madipakkam and Velachery got the best of the showers, but further into the city, their intensity dwindled with Chintadripet seeming the driest around 5.15 p.m.
Prabha Rajagopalan, a resident of Nanganallur, said she had to postpone going to a meeting at 4 p.m. because of the heavy downpour.
D. Karthikeyan, a resident of Anna Nagar however was disappointed.
“There was a mild drizzle between 4.30 p.m. and 5 p.m., but it stopped at that. The only good thing was that it cooled the neighbourhood considerably,” he said.