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Fog will stay till New Year, thanks to rain

The fog that engulfed the Capital on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning will be around for another three to four days, reports Avishek G Dastidar.

india Updated: Dec 28, 2006 03:42 IST

The fog that engulfed the Capital on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning will be around for another three to four days.

According to the Indian Meteorological Office (IMD) at the IGI Airport, this was the third spell of fog to hit the city and it is the most intense in this season. The fog had reduced the visibility to 200 meters in the city and below 50 meters in the airport.

"All weather indicators on Tuesday evening suggested the fog by night-the moisture content in the air was higher than 85 per cent, thanks to some rain in the afternoon and the wind-speed was also not much — a classic precondition for fog," said a duty official at the Met office.

But according to experts, the worst is far from over. "December 15 to January 20 is considered to be the heavy fog season. The fog that we witnessed till now is nothing compared to how bad it is likely to get in the coming days," said J.B. Singh, director of National Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting (NCMRWF).

According to Singh, the next "three to four" days will be foggy both in the morning and in the evening. "Due to heavy moisture content in the air coupled with other weather indicators, we expect the existing spell to continue even till the arrival of the New Year," he said.

But experts say that Delhi's infamous fog has been changing in character over the years and it is not just the weather that is to be blamed.

"In terms of the density of the fog and the resultant dip in visibility, a lot is the result of the heavy vehicular pollution and a rise in population," said S Khindri, chief meteorologist at SkyMet, a Delhi-based weather information firm.

According to Khindri, emission from the 50 lakh-odd vehicles plying on Delhi roads make the city an "island of heat and dust". "This affects the micro-weather of the city wherein the result is that the mercury is perpetually a bit higher than what it is in less-polluted and less populated cities. This has been adding to the density of fog in winters every year," he said.

Khindri also pointed out that earlier, when Delhi had much lesser vehicles and population, the intensity of the fog used to be lesser. "Years ago, with the same meteorological conditions that caused fog on Wednesday, the visibility would have been a lot better," he said.

According to air-pollution experts, over the years, Delhi has been increasingly experiencing, not fog, but smog. "When the level of suspended particulate matters in the air (tiny dust particles) increases, the fog takes the character of condensed air-pollution. Calm and cool weather is blocking the dispersal of smoke and pollutants. The low-hanging shroud impairs visibility and chokes lungs," said Anumita Roychowdhury, associate director, Centre for Science and Environment. "Toxic emission, especially from the rising number of diesel vehicles is a major cause for concern," she said.

Email Avishek G Dastidar: avishek.dastidar@hindustantimes.com

First Published: Dec 28, 2006 03:42 IST