Delhiites woke up to a foggy Christmas as the temperature plunged four degrees below normal in the city.
Dense fog engulfed the Capital, wreaking havoc at the Indira Gandhi International Airport as flight operations came to a halt due to near-zero visibility.
Visibility started dropping in the early hours of Saturday and by 7.30am went below 50 metres. One international and 12 domestic flights had to be diverted to Jaipur, Lucknow and Ahmedabad airports, as the CAT IIIB Instrument Landing System, which guides trained pilots to land in poor visibility, doesn’t function below 50 metres of visibility.
“We were planning to spend our Christmas and New Year holidays in Dehradun, but our flight has been cancelled due to fog,” said Anupam Chawla, a passenger who was travelling with his family. “I don’t know if I should go back home now or book tickets for another flight.”
Low-visibility procedures (LVP) were enforced at the airport for eight hours and six minutes, during which 226 flights were operated using different categories of ILS according to visibility.
“We have entered a very bad phase of dense fog and there is no active system to improve the situation,” said RK Jenamani, director-in-charge, IGIA met unit. “There will be a continuous spell of dense fog for the next two-three days. Haryana and west Delhi are the worst-affected areas,” he said.
The maximum temperature, at 19 degrees Celsius, also plunged four degrees below normal. The minimum temperature, meanwhile, was recorded at 8.2 degrees, a degree above normal.
“Fog has returned because of high humidity level and change in the direction of wind. The temperature dropped last night because of the wind and that led to fog. This will continue in next few days,” said BP Yadav, director of weather Forecast with the India Meteorological Department.
The temperature is expected to dip more in the coming few days.
Motorists also faced a huge problem as driving proved to be a difficult task on Saturday morning. “I had decided to go to Agra with my family today and wanted to leave early. However, we were stuck because of the fog. Nothing was clearly visible in the morning. The veil of fog lifted only after 9.30 am,” said Vikas Mohan, a resident of Mayur Vihar, Phase 3.
However, Delhiites have a reason to cheer on New Year’s eve. “There will be no fog on December 30 and 31. But we are expecting rain on these two days due to western disturbances,” Yadav said.