MADIKERI: It was a surreal experience for many in parts of Kodagu district on Friday. A sudden, heavy hailstorm, lasting over half an hour, left several villages across Shanivarsanthe wearing a snow-capped look. While youngsters in the villages frolicked with chunks of ice, the farmers were worried about crop losses.Villages including Nidtha, Mulluru, Gudugalale, Ankanahalli and Dundalli in Shanivarsanthe hobli were swathed in about 1.5 inches of white. Many students of Mulluru Government Primary School had their first experience with a hailstorm. “Hail stones had collected on a tarpaulin we had put up outside the classrooms for conducting classes. All the students brought buckets and collected ice chunks. It was a unique experience for them,” explained Satish, a teacher at the school.
“I have not witnessed such a hailstorm in the last 45 years of stay at Shanivarsanthe,” said M P Mohanraj, an agriculturalist. He grows pepper, coffee, orange and lemon and expressed concern that this was not good news. “Such rains are always disastrous for farmers and growers. Following the coffee picking season, the coffee plants have to dry till March. On March 31, the farmer’s much sought-after rain - the ‘rathi’ rain - enables blossoming of the crops. This hailstorm will damage the crops and will affect the next year’s crop,” he felt.
Meanwhile, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials in Bengaluru were surprised on learning about hailstorms in Kodagu and Chikkamagaluru during this time of the year. The IMD-Bengaluru, Director in-charge, Geeta Agnihotri, told TNIE that thunder and lightning, coupled with light rainfall, was the forecast following the formation of the easterly system.
“There was no forecast of a hailstorm. It has come as a shock. The conditions were also not favourable for it to occur as there was no rise in temperature and sufficient moisture in the air,” she explained. She added that they have been getting inputs from across districts about hailstones and damage that have occurred. The IMD has forecast rainfall and thunder showers for the next three days.
As per the IMD, Bengaluru received 5.7 mm rainfall and HAL airport recorded 5.8 mm rainfall till 8.30 pm on Friday. Most parts of Karnataka received rainfall because of a trough over north Kerala to south Gujarat coast. The rainfall and dip in temperature is also because of easterly winds, explained an official.
Heavy rains lashed Chitradurga district on Thursday and Friday, inundating low-lying areas. Several parts of Chikkamagaluru district also received moderate rainfall on Friday. A 20-year-old youth died after he was struck by lightning at Nidgal village in Khanapur talluk on Wednesday evening.