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Thunderstorm kills more than a dozen in northwestern India prior to delayed start of monsoon

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Adam Douty, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
June 23, 2019, 12:50:27 PM EDT

In advance of the delayed start of the monsoon, a thunderstorm in northwestern India killed more than a dozen people on Sunday.

A surge of pre-monsoon moisture will lead to scattered thunderstorms across northwestern India on Monday and Tuesday. Cloud cover and scattered rainfall will be enough to trim back the dangerous heat for a few days.

On Sunday, one such thunderstorm caused a pandaal (tent) to collapse in Barmer, Rajasthan. According to India Today, 14 people were killed and another 50 were injured.

When thunder is heard, be sure into move to a sturdy building.

6/23 India

While bringing relief from the heat, thunderstorms across northwest India could bring locally heavy rainfall and damaging wind gusts that may kick up blowing dust.

In the National Capital Region (NCR), temperatures soared to near 42 C (108 F) on Saturday. On Monday and Tuesday, AccuWeather meteorologists expect highs to be held in the middle 30s C (middle 90s F).

Relief from the heat will be short-lived in northwest India as dry weather returns during the second half of the week and higher temperatures make a return.

Highs in the NCR by Friday will once again soar to near 40C (104 F).

Temperatures of this magnitude will elevate the risk for heat-related illnesses, especially for the elderly and children. Outdoor activities should be limited during the hottest times of the day.

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Relief is coming to some across southern and eastern India where the monsoon has begun.

Following an unusually slow onset this year, the monsoon has made a noticeable advancement across southern and eastern India in recent days.

The onset of the monsoon has been declared across nearly all of Chattisgarh and Bihar, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) stated on Sunday.

This comes after Cyclone Vayu caused further delays to the advancement of the seasonal southwest monsoon, which is critical for water supply and agricultural industry throughout India.

News of the onset of the monsoon is definitely welcome in Chennai, where severe drought has gripped the city of nearly 5 million people amid concerns over fresh water supplies.

With the arrival of the monsoon, 29 mm (1.14 inches ) of rain fell on Thursday in Chennia. Another thunderstorm moved into the city on Saturday afternoon.

Before rain arrived, reservoirs levels have fallen to dangerously low levels. The below images show the dramatic effects of the drought on the Puzhal Reservoir.

Puzhal 2018 6/20

Satellite image showing the water supply of Puzhal Reservoir on June 15, 2018. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies)

Puzhal 2019 6/20

Image showing the severe decline in water levels of the Puzhal Reservoir on April 6, 2019. (Satellite image ©2019 Maxar Technologies)

Despite the southwest monsoon commencing around Chennai, AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jason Nicholls projects that the season will end drier than normal with rainfall held to around 90 percent of what typically falls.

Any rainfall in the coming weeks will likely not be heavy enough to significantly improve drought conditions.

Chennai receives the majority of their yearly rainfall from October into early December as the northeast monsoon affects the area.

India monsoon June 21

While the monsoon has made significant advances in the past few days, it remains well behind where it should be for the date.

Data from the IMD indicates that this is the slowest advance of the monsoon in more than a decade, according to the Times of India.

The significant delay in monsoon rainfall has resulted in 38 percent below-normal rainfall countrywide as of June 23.

While much of the rainfall deficit across India can be made up with several weeks of significant rainfall throughout the country, it appears likely the season will end up below normal, as predicted by AccuWeather forecasters in April.

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