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How India’s capital went from extreme heat to heavy floods

The residents of Delhi, who endured one of the worst heatwaves in history earlier this month, now face severe waterlogging with record-breaking rainfall in just 24 hours, surpassing the city’s average for the entire month of June.

The torrential downpour caused a fatal airport roof collapse, disrupted flights, closed a metro station, blocked underpasses, and led to massive traffic jams, turning the city’s relief from the heat into chaos.

The Indian capital of 20 million people received 228.1mm rainfall in 24 hours at its main Safdarjung weather station until 8:30am on Friday, a 266 per cent departure from normal, according to the India Meteorological Department (IMD).

Delhi has not recorded so much rain in the entire month of June, at least in the last 15 years, IMD data shows. On Friday, in three hours alone, areas around the Delhi airport got 148.5mm of rain, compared with 101.7mm for all of June last year.

The seasonal monsoon rain, which slowly covers the country beginning from its southern tip at the end of May, brought respite from heatwave conditions that persisted in Delhi until last week. Temperatures this summer has neared 50 degrees Celsius in the city, and it has recorded at least 40 consecutive days of temperatures at or above 40 degrees Celsius till June 22, according to IMD data.

For every degree increase in earth’s temperature, the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere can increase by about 7 per cent, according to a Nasa article. Experts say that can lead to heavy rains in a short period of time.

“Because of climate change, you will get more extreme rain events, which means more rain in a fewer number of rainy days, rainy hours,” Sunita Narain, director general of research body Centre for Science and