Thunderclouds, aided by a trough over Gangetic West Bengal, triggered heavy showers in parts of Kolkata and several districts across south Bengal on Tuesday evening. An Air Asia flight to Bagdogra from here with 171 passengers including West Bengal minister Arup Biswas was forced to return shortly after takeoff due to a thunderstorm, airport sources said.
The thunderclouds were formed at a height of 5.8 km from the ground level, leading to heavy rains that began around 5 pm, an official of the Regional Meteorological Centre said.
The unseasonal rains, accompanied by hailstorm and heavy winds in some areas, brought traffic to a standstill in the city during the evening rush hours, inconveniencing homebound commuters.
Parts of Bankura, Purulia, East and West Medinipur, Howrah, North and South 24 Parganas districts received heavy rains, the official said. There was no report of any casualty in the city due to the rains, Kolkata Police sources said, adding that a tree fell in the Chingrighata area causing damage to a parked car.
Flight I5536 took off at 4 pm from the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose International Airport but returned around 20 minutes later, sources said. The pilot contacted the ATC and was granted permission to land with standard emergency measures in place, they added.
"We were scared as the plane was suddenly caught in the storm... But everything went off well afterward," Biswas said.
The flight arrived in Bagdogra later in the evening.