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Airport on alert for next 48 hours

A spell of rain on Tuesday brought back the bite in Delhi?s winter but might have also poured cold water on flight schedules for the next 48 hours, report Avishek G Dastidar and Sidhartha Roy.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2006 01:25 IST

A spell of rain on Tuesday brought back the bite in Delhi’s winter but might have also poured cold water on flight schedules for the next 48 hours. The meteorological office at the airport has warned of the possibility of a layer of fog — which could well be the densest this season — engulfing the city by Tuesday evening. The fog shroud is likely to stay put for the “next two days”.

There could not be worse news for the Indira Gandhi International airport in Delhi, which has been grappling with fog-related delays and chaos in the last two weeks. Airport officials will have to brace for some more fog-fighting “especially on Thursday”, a senior official at the Met office said.

"Tuesday’s meteorological conditions were apt for a foggy day, when moisture in the air increased, thanks to the rain, and visibility, too, remained less than normal,” said the duty officer at the Met office at Safdarjung. According to records with the Safdarjung office, this day had witnessed dense fog last year, too, when the minimum temperature was around 7 degrees Celsius.

The rain gods also ended the city’s wait for winter. Delhi woke up to cold winds and a grey sky that threatened to open up and pour anytime. The spell of rain finally started at noon and lasted till around 5.30 p.m. “The chilly northerly wind knocked the temperature several degrees below normal in the morning. It stabilised as the day progressed,” a Met official said. Eventually, the minimum settled at the normal mark of 7.4 degrees Celsius. But the maximum temperature plummeted as much as three degrees below normal to 19 degrees Celsius. According to the Met office, a western disturbance over Jammu and Kashmir coupled with a “low pressure area” over Rajasthan, was the cause of the sudden rain. More rain is forecast for Wednesday.

North chills out

Rain and snowfall also broke the dry spell in the entire northern region and intensified cold conditions in Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh. Snowfall in Kashmir closed the Srinagar-Jammu national highway again, cutting the Valley from rest of the country. Western disturbances over Pakistan caused light morning showers in Punjab and Haryana. The Met office reported light rain across Punjab. Patiala recorded 2.4 mm of rain, Ludhiana 1.4 mm and Amritsar 0.8 mm.

Despite the showers, minimum temperature was two to five degrees above normal in the state.

Email Sidhartha Roy:
Avishek G Dastidar:

First Published: Dec 27, 2006 01:25 IST