A powerful dust storm followed by rain brought temperatures down in the city on Saturday afternoon, bringing relief to residents reeling under the sweltering heat.
But while the downpour brought respite from the heat, it was preceded by a blanket of smog cover over the city, with pollution levels reaching almost nine times the prescribed standards at some places.
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Dr Rajendra K Jenamani, head of the Met department at IGI Airport, said this was the “season’s worst” dust and thunderstorm and was accompanied by strong gusts of winds recorded at 95 kmph between 2.45 pm and 3.30 pm. “The current smog cover in the city started in the morning, when the winds became calmer. Visibility remained very low, up to 1,100 m in parts of Delhi. This might intensify in the next 48 hours and there is the possibility of more moisture tomorrow.”
As per the DPCC, air pollution levels peaked in the city hours before the thunderstorm. At R K Puram, for instance, Particulate Matter 2.5 (PM 2.5) levels were recorded at 551 µg/m3. This is over nine times higher than the Indian standard of 60 µg/m3.
PM 2.5 levels are internationally accepted as the best marker for air pollution.
The Meteorological department recorded 4.8 mm of rain. “Temperatures came down below the 40-degree Celsius mark as the maximum temperature settled at 39.7 degrees Celsius, which is one notch above the season’s average. The minimum temperature during the day was recorded at 29 degrees Celsius,” a MeT official said.
Several trees and power lines were uprooted. A police officer was injured when a tree collapsed.