Widespread damage after record-breaking Vardah hits India


Tropical Cyclone "Vardah" that hit Chennai, India, on December 12, 2016, is one of the strongest storms reported in the state over the last few decades. At least 10 people died and widespread damage, traffic disruptions, and power outages were reported.

Severe Cyclonic Storm "Vardah" slammed into India on December 12, 2016. The significant weakening, expected prior to landfall, didn't happen, and the system hit Chennai as a Category 1 hurricane, with winds reaching 140 km/h (87 mph) and intense rainfall. National Disaster Management Authority reports that at least 10 people have died in Tamil Nadu.

NASA's GPM recorded very heavy rainfall on the southern side of the eye of Vardah. Rainfall rates were estimated by GPM's DPR at over 235 mm (9.25 inches) per hour, December 12, 02:41 UTC. Image credit: NASA/JAXA, Hal Pierce

According to local media reports, the last time a cyclonic system of such force hit Chennai was on October 31, 1994. The city recorded 250 mm (9.8 inches) on the occasion in a period of only 24 hours. As of November 1, 15 people died, 1 500 trees were downed and traffic was disrupted across the affected areas. 

Another storm of similar strength was observed in the regions decades earlier. On November 4, 1966, a tropical weather system hit Madras and left 8 000 people homeless and 26 people dead.

Video credit: Spotlight

Vardah also strongly affected Internet services across the state. In only two days, following the system's landfall, thousands of outages occurred in Chennai and Bangalore while Mumbai and New Delhi were also affected.

"The cyclone in Chennai has impacted one of our undersea network cables which may affect Internet speeds. Our engineers are working to resolve the issue and services will be normalized shortly," Airtel telecom reported in a statement addressing its customers.

According to Skymetweather, 69 mm (2.7 inches) of rainfall was recorded at the Bangalore airport observatory in 24 hours between December 12 and 13. At the same time, Bangalore city reported 60.8 mm (2.4 inches) of precipitation. 

Video credit: IndiaTV

Video credit: NDTV

Monthly average rainfall in Bangalore for the month of December is usually about 15.7 mm (0.6 inches), which means the city has received about four times the usual monthly amount of rain in only 24 hours. The rainfall amount also set a new record, breaking the ones from 2012 when 23.5 mm (0.925 inches) was recorded, and from 2009 when 23.4 mm (0.921 inches) was observed.

Light to moderate rainfall was affecting Bangalore from the night of December 13 while the rainstorms also hit areas in Mandya, Chamrajnagar, Kolar, Mysore Tumkur, Hassan, and Madikeri. The rainfalls will continue over the next day.

Video credit: BehindwoodsTV

The system has weakened significantly after the landfall and will most likely dissipate into a low pressure field by the end of the day.

Skymetweather predicts light to moderate rainfalls with possible isolated heavy rains will continue affecting the region of south inner Karnataka. The system will then track over the west and continue over the southeast Arabian Sea as a cyclonic westward moving circulation.

Featured image credit: BehindwoodsTV

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