Dust storm hits Delhi, 70 flights diverted

NEW DELHI: A powerful dust storm accompanied by rains on Sunday evening brought down the temperature in the national capital and adjoining areas, seriously disrupting air traffic and Metro services, officials said. As the storm blew at a highest speed of 70 kmph, mercury fell from 39 degrees Celsius at 4 pm to 25 degrees half hour later, the Indian Meteorological Department said. By early evening, the skies had turned dark. More than 70 incoming flights were diverted from the Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGIA) here on Sunday evening following a powerful dust storm and rains, officials said.
An IGIA official said the diversions took place between 4.15 pm and 9 pm.
“More than 70 flights have been diverted and some outbound flights have been delayed as well due to the weather,” the official said.
The official cited poor visibility and strong winds for the disruption in operations.
Delhi Metro operations were also hit. Thousands of commuters were stuck on the winding and busy Blue Line, which links Dwarka in northwest Delhi to Noida and Vaishali in Uttar Pradesh, for almost 45 minutes.
When the Metro services resumed, the trains plied at halting speed.
The rains and storm brought down trees and tree branches in some areas and led to traffic snarls, forcing two-wheeler drivers to take shelter under bridges and flyovers. Motorists switched on headlights to find their way in the enveloping darkness.
But the dramatic change in weather did bring respite to residents from the sweltering heat.
The Met department has forecast rain and thunderstorm with gusty wind towards the end of the day.
Power supply was affected in many areas in Delhi and Gurugram in Haryana.
The Met official said that Sunday morning was the hottest of the season, with minimum temperature recorded at 30.6 degrees Celsius, five notches above the season’s average.
Meanwhile, the Met Office in Shimla said the hills of Himachal Pradesh will get more thunderstorms accompanying squalls for the next two days.
An advisory was issued to avoid travelling to the high hills of Kullu, Sirmaur, Chamba, Lahaul and Spiti and Kinnaur districts as chances of snow and rain are high over the next 24 hours, a government spokesperson said in Shimla.
According to the Met Office, rainfall accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds with a speed of 50-70 km per hour are likely at some places in the state till Tuesday.
Kalpa in Kinnaur district saw 3.6 mm of rain, while it was 5 mm in Keylong in Lahaul-Spiti district.
However, Shimla experienced only mild rain, while Manali, Dharamsala and Palampur towns received 8.2 mm, 6.6 mm and 12.9 mm of rain, respectively.
Shimla recorded a minimum of 15.6 degrees Celsius, while it was seven degrees in Kalpa, 16.4 degrees in Dharamsala, 10 degrees in Manali and 12.7 degrees in Dalhousie, which had mild rains. — IANS