Delhi logs 13 hours of dense fog as rail, flight operations take a hit - Hindustan Times
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Delhi logs 13 hours of dense fog as rail, flight operations take a hit

Dec 29, 2023 01:51 AM IST

The fog that began descending on Wednesday reduced visibility below 200 metres at Palam around 8.30pm and fell to just 50 metres at 10pm

A dense fog blanketed the Capital for nearly 13 straight hours making it the longest spell of dense fog this season, weather officials said on Thursday, even as the India Meteorological Department sounded a “red alert” for dense to very dense fog between 4am and 10am on Friday, urging motorists to exercise caution.

Motorists in Gurugram on a cold and foggy Thursday morning. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)
Motorists in Gurugram on a cold and foggy Thursday morning. (Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

Read here: In Uttar Pradesh, fog woes continue, rail, road, air traffic stay hit

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The fog that began descending late on Wednesday evening reduced visibility below 200 metres at Palam around 8.30pm and fell to just 50 metres at 10pm — remaining in this range till Thursday morning — throwing rail and flight operations in the city out of gear. The prevailing weather conditions also continued to entrap local pollutants and the city clocked a 24-hour average air quality index of 358 (very poor).

“Visibility began to dip rapidly from Wednesday evening and dropped from 800 metres at 5.30 pm at Palam, and 100 metres by 8.30pm, improving only as wind speed was good,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, scientist at IMD, adding that no significant change in the weather is expected on Friday.

“For the last two days, including Thursday, we had an orange alert. This has been upgraded to ‘red’ for Friday to warn people to be cautious while driving, particularly between 4am and 10am, when the visibility could go down to zero in places. People should drive slowly and use fog lights if possible,” Srivastava added.

Over 100 flights were delayed since late Wednesday evening. However, despite bad weather, no flight diversions or cancellations were reported at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport.

Airport officials said that since midnight of December 25, 58 flight diversions have been reported at the airport in total, with 50 of these being cases where the pilot was not CAT-III B compliant and not qualified to land in dense fog.

A Northern Railways spokesperson, meanwhile, said at least 22 trains were delayed by more than one hour on Thursday morning. This included the Puri-New Delhi Purushottam Express, which was running at a delay of more than six hours.

On Wednesday, shallow to moderate fog persisted over the Capital throughout the day, keeping the maximum temperature below 13 degrees Celsius (°C) — eight degrees below normal. However, IMD said the fog cleared up quickly on Thursday in comparison, raising the maximum temperature.

Delhi’s lowest maximum temperature on Thursday was 14.3°C at southwest Delhi’s Jafarpur, followed by 16.5°C at Palam. Safdarjung, the base station for Delhi’s weather, recorded a maximum of 21.4°C, which is so far the lowest maximum for the season. This is still a degree above normal for this time of the year.

Delhi’s minimum temperature was 8.4°C on Thursday morning, which was two degrees above normal. It was 7.8°C a day earlier.

IMD had on Wednesday forecast chances of “cold day” conditions in isolated parts of Delhi on Thursday. A cold day is when the maximum temperature is 4.5°C or more below normal, with the minimum also being below 10°C.

On Wednesday, Mungeshpur in northwest Delhi had recorded a high of 12.5°C, Jafarpur 12.8°C and north Delhi’s Narela was at 14.5°C. Safdarjung, Delhi’s base station for weather, was at 22°C and is forecast to record a maximum of 21°C on Friday.

“No cold day conditions were recorded on Thursday, as winds were able to clear up the fog. We had good wind speed even at night time, which prevented visibility from going down to zero,” an IMD official said.

IMD classifies it as “shallow” fog when visibility is between 500 and 1,000 metres, “moderate” when it is between 200 and 500 metres, “dense” when it is between 50 and 200 metres and “very dense” when it is 50 metres or lower.

At least 11 people were killed on Wednesday as a band of thick fog left cities, towns and villages in parts of northern India virtually blinded, causing pile-ups on highways.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s air continued to remain “very poor” on Thursday, improving marginally in the past 24 hours. The average air quality index (AQI) was 358 (very poor) according to the Central Pollution Control Board’s national bulletin released at 4pm. It was 380 (very poor) at the same time on Wednesday. Forecasts show Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain “very poor” till December 31.

Read here: Delhi fog: Consider these ‘safety tips’ if you are travelling by road

“Delhi’s air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category from December 29 till December 31. The outlook for the subsequent six days shows the air quality is likely to remain in the ‘very poor’ category,” said the Early Warning System (EWS) for Delhi, a forecasting model under the ministry of earth sciences, adding that conditions were not favourable for dispersion of pollutants and any firecrackers burst on December 31, may worsen air quality further.

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