A week after dust storms claimed 124 lives and left over 300 injured in five states, thunderstorms, accompanies by dusty winds, claimed two lives on Monday – a woman in Tripura and an 11-year-old girl in UP’s Mainpuri.
Meanwhile, the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) issued a warning of thunderstorm accompanied with squall and hail in large parts of northern and eastern India on Tuesday, prompting authorities to put in place various emergency measures such as part-closure of schools and cancelling leave of civic officials.
The weather department has also forecasted a spell of rain/thunderstorm, accompanied with squall, in the national capital late in the evening. It said the wind speed might go up to 50-70 kilometers per hour.
However, the fresh round of stormy weather is unlikely to be as devastating as the one that was witnessed last week.
The IMD said, thunderstorm, accompanied by squall and hail, was very likely at isolated places over Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand on Tuesday.
Thunderstorm, accompanied with squall, is also very likely at isolated places over Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, western Uttar Pradesh and sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim.
Thunderstorm, accompanied with gusty winds, is very likely at isolated places over western Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, sub-Himalayan West Bengal, Sikkim, Odisha, Telangana, north interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
At some places, the wind speed may go up to 50-70 kilometers per hour, it said.
The IMD issued an amber-coloured alert, indicating severe weather, for parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, western Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim and West Bengal.
In view of IMD's warning of thunderstorm and squall, the district administration of Uttar Pradesh's Ghaziabad and Meerut announced that all schools and colleges will remain shut on Tuesday.
Dust storm hits Chandigarh, parts of Punjab and Haryana
Dust storms hit Chandigarh and parts of Punjab and Haryana Monday evening with many residents preferring to stay indoors in view of the IMD warning.
There were reports of power supply getting disrupted at some places in the states.
The Haryana government has cancelled leave of all officials in civic bodies across the state, in view of the IMD alert of thunderstorm and squall.
Fire and other emergency services, too, have been directed to remain alert.
Notably, the Haryana government had ordered closure of schools on May 7 and 8, with Education Minister Ram Bilas Sharma yesterday saying that the decision had been taken in view of the MeT warning.
Also Read: Thunderstorm LIVE updates: Dust storm hits Rajasthan's Jhunjhunu and Sikar; squall, hail likely in Delhi, nearby states on Tuesday
While there were no instructions by the authorities to close schools in Chandigarh, but some schools took the decision on their own and announced a holiday today as a precautionary measure.
Many schools here announced a holiday minutes before the educational institutes were to open, forcing many students to return to their homes.
Delhi govt decides to close all evening schools on Tuesday
Following the weather department’s warning of thunderstorm accompanied with squall, the Delhi government decided to close all evening schools on Tuesday.
The government said that all evening schools (second shift which starts from the afternoon) will be shut tomorrow. There are around 400 evening schools running in the national capital.
Government has also asked other schools to not hold outdoor activities and extra-curricular activities between 3 PM to 7 PM during which wind speed is expected to remain high.
In a circular issued in the evening, the directorate of education said that winds with a speed of 50-60 kmph may blow between 3 PM and 7 PM in Delhi which is expected to peak around 5.30 PM.
"In the light of inputs from State Disaster Management Authority, it has been decided that government, government-aided & recognised unaided school under directorate of education running in evening/IInd shift shall remain closed on May 8 as a precautionary measure.
"Other schools are also advised to not hold outdoor activities/extra-curricular activities during the above said time period (from 3 PM to 7 PM)," the circular stated.
The government also issued a list of 'dos and don'ts' to deal with any such possible situation. Officials of the fire department, revenue, traffic police, home, PWD and others were present in the meeting chaired by the chief secretary.
In the list of 'dos and don'ts', the government has advised citizens to try to stay indoors and staff off verandas and keep a watch on local weather updates and warnings.
The government also asked people to ensure that children and animals are inside and unplug unnecessary electrical appliances.
The advisory also asked citizens to avoid taking a bath or shower or leave water running for any purpose.
"This is because lightening can travel along pipes. Keep away from doors, windows, fire places, stoves, bath-tubs, or any other electrical charge conductors," the advisory stated.
Delhi govt puts search and rescue teams on standby, metro to exercise caution
The Delhi government has put search and rescue teams on standby and the traffic police have alerted their field formations to be ready for removal of obstacles.
The traffic police has asked commuters to check weather conditions before travelling while the Delhi Metro too has decided to exercise extreme caution in running of trains in the wake of the warning.
The revenue department of the Delhi government has issued directions to all district officers and said water and power utilities would also keep restoration teams ready.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC), which operates trains in the national capital and NCR, said it would exercise extreme caution in running of trains.
"If wind speed is reported in the range of 70-90 kmph then train movement will remain normal but trains will enter with a restricted speed of 40 kmph or less at the platforms on elevated section.
"If wind speed is reported more than 90 kmph then trains will be put on hold at platforms and no train will enter platform with a speed of more than 15 kmph," a senior DMRC official told PTI.
In this case, normal movement of trains will be restored once the wind speed is reported less then 85kmph for continuous five minutes. Appropriate announcements will be made at stations during this period, he said.
At the same time, the Delhi Traffic Police has advised commuters to plan their journey after checking the weather conditions.
The Delhi Traffic Police's advisory states that it has alerted the field formations to be ready to get obstacles such as fallen trees removed.
The advisory has asked commuters to avoid travelling during the storm.
Those who are stopping on the road or parking their vehicle have been advised to keep away from overhead electrical wires, tinned roofs, trees, etc., it said.
The commuters have been advised to take shelter under concrete structures. Drivers have been advised to use dippers or parking lights while driving.
The advisory says that commuters should "keep themselves updated about weather conditions and plan their journey accordingly".
One killed, 1800 houses damaged in nor'wester in Tripura
An elderly woman was killed and over 1,800 houses were damaged after a nor'wester struck various parts of Tripura. Khowai was the worst affected district in the state.
Around 2,500 people were forced to take shelter in government buildings when the storm hit the state on Sunday, a state government official said.
Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb visited the affected areas in the district and reviewed the situation along with district administration officials and police officers, the superintendent of police of Khowai district, Krisnendu Chakraverty said.
The chief minister has announced Rs 5 lakh compensation for the family of the deceased woman, and Rs 1 lakh each to various families for repairing damaged houses, Chakraverty said.
A relief amount of Rs 5,000 each will be given to all evacuees, he said.
"A 60-year-old woman was killed when lightning struck her at Shanital village in Khowai district, 50 km from Agartala," Krisnendu Chakraverty, told PTI, adding that around 1,800 houses were damaged in the district.
Winds with a speed of over 80 km per hour struck several parts of the state on Sunday night, officials said, adding, a similar storm hit Tripura since this morning.
Parts of Dhalai, Gomati, Unakoti, Sipahijala and South Tripura districts were affected, the officials said.
Sixteen relief camps were set up across the state today to provide shelter to approximately 2,500 people, they said.
The local administration also provided ration and medicines to the affected people.