Mumbai woke up to a grey morning on Wednesday with the city covered by an unusual haze through the day. Citizens even complained of reduced visibility on roads as well as respiratory problems. The Met department said the haze was due to a dust storm in Rajasthan.
A dust storm is a common meteorological phenomenon in arid or semi-arid regions where strong winds pick up loose sand or dust from the surface. The chance of a dust storm increases due to high temperatures,which make the air near the ground unstable.
This dust haze over the city is due to a dust storm over Rajasthan,which has also affected parts of Gujarat bordering it. It was carried to the city by strong northerly winds. Temperatures in parts of Rajasthan have gone up to 40 degrees,which could be the reason for the dust storm, said V K Rajeev,director,India Meteorological Department (IMD). The haze is likely to disperse by Thursday morning at the most,he added.
The haze affected residents with many complaining of blurred vision and coughing. Several people came today complaining of itching in throat and hazy vision. If the haze continues for a few more days,respiratory cases will increase, said a doctor from Sion Hospital. Dr Shahid Barmare,physician at Kohinoor Hospital,said people should stay indoors as far as possible till the haze cover reduces. People stepping out should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or a scarf,he said.
Despite visibility reducing to around 1,000 m in the afternoon as against the normal of 5,000 m,no flights were delayed. The haze did not affect flight schedules. There were no specific delays in flights due to the haze, said Mannik Nangia,a MIAL spokesperson.
The Met department,however,refuted reports of the dust storm in Rajasthan being linked to weather conditions over Iran,Afghanistan and Pakistan on March 19.