In a first, tornado strikes briefly in Chennai

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Chennai: Robert Gagarin (58) of Uthandi  is not a habitual star-gazer. He just happened to be on the rooftop of his house in time to catch a glimpse of a tornado  in the distance.The day was Thursday last and the time, 4.30 pm. “The sky turned pitch dark and I saw a circular cone shaped cloud formation for about 15 minutes. I clicked some pictures and also a video with my smart phone,” says an excited Robert. Met officials confirmed that he had indeed seen a tornado, the first one reported in Chennai. “Our officials, who were on their way to Puducherry too experienced some effects of this phenomenon but we confirmed it only after seeing the picture you sent us,” Dr Y. E. A. Raj, deputy director general of meteorology, Regional Meteorological Centre (RMC), Chennai, told the Deccan Chronicle.According to  Robert, who lives near the coastline, heavy rain and winds measuring nearly 60 kmph  hit the area soon after he saw the tornado. “My friend, who was about 1.5 km away from my house, did not see anything unusual. So the tornado must have been completely localised,” he adds. Dr Raj too says there was a definite disturbance during the time mentioned on ECR Road. “We not only encountered intense weather, but our officials, who were travelling in a car to Puducherry  felt the vehicle being jolted to the left of the road. It may not have been an intense tornado as the funnel clouding did not extend to the ground, but  it was unmistakably a tornado,” he concludes. 

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