The Mumbai rains of 26 July 2005 were thought to be unprecedented. But Mumbai had previously experienced such a deluge on 22 September 1949, though it was of a lesser magnitude.

“Dnyanodaya”, then published from Poona as a weekly magazine, in its issue dated Thursday, 29 September 1949, Volume 109, No. 39, carried a news item on “Rain in
Bombay”. This is reproduced below with some clarifications added within brackets by me. – R. R. Kelkar

Torrential rainfall soaked the Indian plateau from coast to coast on Thursday (22 September 1949) snapping rail, sea and tele-communications, grounding air services and leaving a trail of havoc which remains to be determined. Few regions south of India’s waist-line had escaped. Bombay (now Mumbai)’’s arteries with the mainland were severed for nearly 24 hours. The city lay prostrate beneath the deluge.

The city’s streets on Thursday (22 September) ran like rivers in spate, alleys became rivulets, water cataracted down every gradient however slight, and the Hanging
Gardens and the upper reaches of Malabar and Cumballa Hills bore the appearance of miniature waterfalls.
People swam in the streets in water five to six foot (2 metres) deep while children dragged boats and rafts from the recesses of godowns and attics laughingly to paddle them across deep pools. Floods swirled over cars marooned at Gilder Tank Roadand other low lying zones, for few trams and carts were able to negotiate the scores of impassable streets.

From 8-30 A.M. on Wednesday (21 September) upto 6-30 P.M. 28 inches (70 cm) of rain had been recorded.

The rainfall recorded at Colaba observatory during the 48 hours ended 8 A.M. on Friday (23 September) was 31.7 inches (80 cm). This is a record for the past 108 years, the previous record having been 26.3 inches (66 cm) for a similar period. That was in 1930. Twenty inches and seventy cents of rain was registered at the Colaba Observatory during the 24 hours ended 5-30 P.M. on Thursday (22 September). This is a second record for the last 108 years and beat the previous one of 21.6 inches (56 cm) in 1930 by 7 inches (17 cm).

Records of over a century have been shattered by Bombay’s uninterrupted 48 hours downpour.

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