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Vehicles wade through with their headlights on during a heavy fog in Delhi NCR on Monday. The visibility which was 1,500 metres at 3.30 a.m. dropped rapidly to zero at 5.30 a.m.
A thick blanket of fog engulfed the national capital and its suburbs on the New Year Day with visibility dropping to zero, hitting domestic and international operations at the Delhi airport and delaying trains departing from and arriving to Delhi.
With mercury at 5.7 degrees Celsius, dropping a notch below the season’s average on Sunday night, hundreds of passengers braved the morning chill as they remained stranded for hours at the airport and Delhi railway stations.
“Delhi woke up to worst fog of the season. Most of the northwesters plains are in its grip. Day temperature will fall significantly,” Mahesh Palawat, vice-president at Skymet Weather, said, adding the minimum temperature of 5.7 degrees was “lowest minimum of the season”.
All the terminals at the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport were packed with passengers, who drove on fog-covered roads to catch their morning flights.
The visibility which was 1,500 metres at 3.30 a.m. dropped rapidly to zero at 5.30 a.m.
The flight operations at the airport were halted for about five hours. However, the visibility improved as the late morning sun broke through the blinding cloud cover, allowing some flights to take off around 11 a.m.
A visibility of at least 125 metres is needed for a flight to take off.
Arrivals at the airport were also baldy hit as only some aircraft were allowed to land. Flights can land in visibility below 50 metres if pilots are trained in CAT IIIB — which is Category Three.
The Northern Railways said over 50 trains coming to Delhi were running late and 20 were rescheduled. Some 15 were cancelled.
The Met Department said the shallow fog would continue throughout the region all through the day. The maximum temperature was likely to hover around 23 degrees Celsius.
Pollution levels in the capital also shot up. The Air Quality Index (AQI) at various places in Delhi fell to the “hazardous” category.
Many took to Twitter to share pictures of their areas covered by the blinding fog as the hashtag #delhifog was among the most trending topics on the microblogging site.
“I wanted to say Hello 2018 by clicking the sunrise, but with this fog I can’t even see my reflection to say hello to myself,” tweeted @virenrawat48, posting a picture of all haze.
@pinkychandran tweeted that it was “interesting start to the New Year. In the plane from 6 a.m., waiting to takeoff. No complains though.”
300 flights delayed, 8 cancelled due to low visibility at Delhi airport
Over 300 flights were delayed and eight cancelled as dense fog severely hampered visibility at the Indira Gandhi International airport here this morning.
Nearly all flights arriving into and departing from Delhi were affected. About 265 domestic flights and 67 international flights were delayed.
There have been eight cancellations so far, all of which were domestic flights.
No take-offs could take place between 7:30 AM to 9:30AM, according to an airport official. This was because runway visual range (RVR) was between 100-125 metres, while aircraft require more than 125 metres RVR for take off.
While planes could land in Delhi, they were delayed because of unavailability of parking bays, which were occupied by aircraft waiting to take-off, the official said.
There were no diversions to nearby airports due to fog, according to the official.
Vistara’s Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer, Sanjiv Kapoor, took to Twitter to describe the mess at Delhi airport this morning.
“All departures were held up due to fog, arrivals not getting gates as all occupied by aircraft waiting to depart. Departures finally starting to happen now. Consequential delays expected through the day across the network,” Kapoor tweeted.
Delhi airport resumes operations nearly after four hours
The Delhi airport resumed functioning on Monday afternoon after after dense fog in the morning forced it to halt its operations for nearly four hours. Many flights are running behind schedule, ANI reported.
Earlier, five domestic and seven international flights were delayed and one was cancelled.
Train services were also affected – 15 trains were cancelled, 56 were delayed and 20 were rescheduled. The Skymet Weather Service said most of the northwestern plains were enveloped by thick fog and the day temperature would fall significantly.
The temperature dipped to 8 degrees Celsius in the morning, and the quality of air improved. At 12 pm, the air quality in Delhi was at the “very poor” level with a reading of 385 on the Air Quality Index, the Central Pollution Control Board said. At 8 am, the AQI was 390.
The Air Quality Index at the United States Embassy in Delhi’s diplomatic enclave improved from a hazardous 482 at 8 am to 260 at 11 am, which is considered “very unhealthy”.
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