1976 to 2021: A look at Chennai’s intense 24-hour rain spell

Between 8.30 am on November 6 and November 7, 2021, Chennai witnessed an intense 24-hour rainfall, which the city last witnessed in 2015.
A view of Marina Beach following heavy rain in Chennai
A view of Marina Beach following heavy rain in Chennai
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On Saturday morning, November 6, Chennai and several suburbs in Chengelpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts of Tamil Nadu witnessed intermittent rains. By night, the showers became non-stop, and continued till Sunday, November 7, turning out to be one of the heaviest in recent years. In fact, it was after a hiatus of six years that Chennai witnessed an intense rainfall in 24 hours, said experts.

According to Deputy Director-General of Meteorology S Balachandran, the all-time record of highest rain in Chennai was 45 centimetres in 1976. Following this, in 1985, Chennai had recorded 25 cm and 33 cm of rainfall on two different dates. Subsequently, in 2015, the city experienced nearly 25 cm of rainfall. Now, the city has recorded close to that level, he told PTI.

According to India Meteorological Department in Chennai, the Kamarajar Salai point (DGP Office on the Marina beachfront) near the Tamil Nadu Secretariat recorded the highest rainfall of 23 cm between 8.30 am on November 6 and November 7. The Chennai Nungambakkam and Ambattur (Tiruvallur district) recorded 21 cm of rainfall. Such showers over the past were recorded in November during the Northeast monsoon. "We have received 43% more showers," Balachandran added.

Meanwhile, suburban Ennore in north Chennai recorded 10 cm. Some suburban locations, including areas covered in nearby Tiruvallur district, received between 3 cm (Poondi and RK Pet) and 9 cm (Cholavaram).

On Saturday night, heavy to very heavy overnight rains pounded Chennai and its suburbs, leading to water-logging everywhere, with the water entering houses in low-lying areas by Sunday. The sluice gates of three reservoirs — Chembarambakkam, Puzhal and Poondi — were also opened to release surplus water in a phased manner. These reservoirs serve as the drinking water needs of Chennai. Several suburbs in Chengelpet, Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts also witnessed intermittent rains and the showers became non-stop since last night.

The IMD gave a 'red' category warning, indicating heavy rains in Tamil Nadu and neighbouring Puducherry on Sunday.

Rainwater entered several houses in parts of neighbourhoods in the city and suburbs, including Saidapet, Velachery, Ambattur, Korattur and Vyasarpadi, bringing back memories of the deluge of 2015 in the city. People were evacuated in inflatable boats by disaster response teams from some of the locations.

Most city and peripheral roads came under sheets of water and several trees were uprooted, leading to traffic diversions and disruption in transport services. People waded through ankle-deep water to reach nearby shops to buy essential commodities.

Relatively low-level bridges, known as 'tharaipaalam' in Tamil, were submerged in several suburban areas. In view of water-logging, at least six subways were closed for traffic.

Revenue Minister KKSSR Ramachandran said the rainwater was pumped out from five city subways and work in eight other similar facilities was underway. He also said that 27 uprooted trees were removed.

Mild to moderate, intermittent rainfall was also reported in several other regions of Tamil Nadu, including Erode and delta areas like Tiruvarur.


(With input from PTI)

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