Delhi woke up to the season’s worst fog on Friday morning as low visibility affected movement of nearly 500 flights and forced the Railways to tinker with the schedule of several long-distance trains departing from the city. Saturday weather, however, is expected to be better.
Departures at the Indira Gandhi International Airport were suspended for about two hours in the morning. Hundreds of passengers were stuck for as long as four hours with visibility between 7.40am and 10.30am dipping to way below the required 125 metres for takeoff.
“The visibility at IGI airport improved after 10am. Departure schedule of flights between 4.14am to 10.08am was disrupted due to runway visual range below the required Low Visibility Take Off minima,” said a Delhi airport official.
According to officials, 10 flights were diverted, 22 were cancelled and around 400 were delayed for anything between ranging one hour and five hours. “This was the second spell of dense fog that affected flight movements badly,” an airport official said.
The minimum temperature on Friday morning was recorded at 12 degrees, five degrees above normal. Met officials said the dense fog was due to a combination of high humidity and low wind speed.
“The cloud cover over the city on Thursday made conditions conducive for dense fog. We were expecting it and fog will be seen on Saturday morning too, but will be much lesser,” said RK Jenamani, director, IGI Airport Met centre.
According to Jenamani, Friday’s fog was unique in the sense that it developed despite the high minimum temperature.
Railway officials said 56 trains were running late and the scheduled departure times of 19 others had to be altered. The Sikkim Mahananda Express train (15483) was the only train that was cancelled, according to railway officials.
“We are updating details on the website and public are being informed through the helpline numbers. Apart from that, we have taken several other preventive measures during the winter season,” said Neeraj Sharma, chief public relations officer (CPRO).
The officer said that in view of fog, the railways have restored 18 trains, which were earlier cancelled, scheduled for travelling between January- February.
As the delays piled up, hundreds of disgruntled passengers began tweeting about the hassles they were facing at the airport and airline officials were seen doing their best to pacify them.
“Entire city is enveloped with dense fog. Travel safe Delhi,” Delhi Police tweeted on Friday morning.
The Capital is generally enveloped in a thick sheet of fog for several days in December and January, wreaking havoc on train and flight schedules.
But the city is going through its warmest winter in eight years.
The maximum temperature has so far hovered around 23 degree Celsius, quite high for this time of the year.