- This article has been shared by Zaeem Khalid from Rawalpindi, Pakistan
Plunging into a historic event that is still crystal clear in my mind, the temperature on June 5, 2003 was soaring up to 43 °C in the twin cities of Rawalpindi/Islamabad and rain was long overdue. It was only a matter of time for favorable conditions to develop for a nice thunderstorm which would bring relief from the hot weather since localized thunderstorms are common that effectively bring down the temperature by a storm accompanied by thunder, wind and a good rain shower during the dry months of May and June. But tonight the twin cities were in for a special deal…
Around midnight some lightning could be seen in the far northwest and at about 1:50 AM much to everyone’s surprise a violent thunderstorm had developed quietly and struck the twin cities at an incredible speed from Westerly direction. Wind gusts in Rawalpindi were reported by Pakistan Meteorological Department to have reached 167 km/h (90 knots) while secondary winds of 85 km/h (46 knots) were reported for Islamabad city. On record this is one of the most furious storms as duration for the storm was an incredible 45 min, which caused widespread destruction especially in the “kucha abadi” of Rawalpindi city and suburbs. Collapsing walls and roofs killed 5 people and injured many. The storm brought power lines and trees which suspended power in many areas of Rawalpindi/Islamabad for days (including my area). In an hour 67 mm of rain was reported for Rawalpindi which is rather high for a June storm.
I had gone to bed after witnessing the incredible fury of Mother Nature but the excitement woke me up again to see what was happening at around 4 AM in the morning. I remember a wild moon shinning through the window, the wind was absolutely calm and it seemed like nothing happened! I realized that we still didn’t have power and neither did the neighboring areas. On the other hand, I saw that two large (25 feet tall) twin sarv trees in my front lawn were uprooted and at the back of the house Indian Rosewood (Sheesham) which was a 30 foot tree had snapped in half! As a 10 year old at the time, I was super astonished yet excited; guessing the wind speed to be something I had never witnessed before and went back to bed as it was a school night.
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