CHENNAI: If you woke up on Monday morning without the customary beads of sweat on your brow that have been the hallmark of this summer, you'd have to thank the rain god. After a prolonged, furious spell of storm-like rainfall hit the city and it's suburbs a little after 1 am, the minimum temperature plummeted down to a cool 23 degrees Celsius - making it the one of the coolest mornings since 'Winter' departed.
The thunder, overcast skies and furious rainfall that lasted till 3 am, might have been a reason to cheer for some - but that wasn't the case at the Chennai Airport's Air Traffic Control (ATC) tower. After the foul weather descended around the region, several international flights needed to circle and gauge their options before landing. One plane that took off just as the weather was worsening, Thai Airways flight TG 337 to Thailand, ran into the storm and was forced to return to Chennai and land here. The plane took off at 1.01 am but limped back and re-landed at 2.15 am, as the weather outlay around Chennai airspace just wasn't conducive for flight.
A British Airways flight (BA 35), that was en route from London's Heathrow Airport had to be diverted to Bangalore after it circled over Chennai from 2 am to about 2.30 am, "The weather conditions were extremely bad at that time. Visibility was poor and the wind was extremely strong. So we advised the pilot to divert to Bangalore at 3 am and they made it safely there," said an ATC official.
The city's weathermen confirmed that the heavens really opened up over Meenambakkam as there was a considerable 51.2 mm of rainfall recorded at the met office there - a significant increase over the 36.8 mm recorded at the main centre at Nungambakkam.
As the city (and several agencies carrying out road and cable-laying work) has been caught unawares by the rain, it has been a torrid morning for some as they went back to work and school, through puddles and slush. "With water stagnating at some places like Arcot Road, the trench that has been dug along the pavement is almost invisible. People could really injure themselves," said Adhikesavan, a revenue employee who lives in Vadapalani. And yet, not too many people are complaining hard - a few bad roads are still better than days with temperatures straight out of the Sahara Desert.