A dust storm accompanied by strong winds and light rain on Saturday evening brought down temperature in the city by two degrees, providing much-needed relief at the end of a sweltering week. But the high wind speed of about 98 kmph and the lack of visibility also meant Metro services, flight operations and power supply were hit, and traffic came to a halt at several places.
This is the sixth, and the season’s worst, dust storm to hit the capital. Other dust storms that hit the city were witnessed on April 6, May 2, 7, 13 and June 1. R K Jenamani, Director IMD at the airport, said that in terms of frequency, the Indira Gandhi International (IGI) Airport has recorded the highest number of dust storms this summer since 2008. “The temperature and moisture has been increasing, resulting in this phenomena. There was convergence as well,” said Jenamani. A total of 29 incoming flights were diverted.
A dust storm accompanied by light rain is expected on Sunday as well, which will keep temperature on the lower side, the weatherman has predicted. According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum and minimum temperature on Sunday is likely to hover around 39 and 32 degrees Celsius respectively. Monday and Tuesday are expected to remain cloudy.
From Wednesday to Friday, the Met office has forecast strong surface winds during the day, with the maximum temperature likely to hover around 42-43 degrees Celsius. On Saturday, the maximum temperature fell to 36 degrees Celsius, while the minimum was recorded at 30 degrees Celsius.
As the sky turned dark in a matter of minutes between 5-5.30 pm, several areas saw trees keeling over, affecting traffic. Following the dust storm, the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation said there were a few cases of track circuit drop on the Red Line, which runs between Dilshad Garden and Rithala, and on the Blue Line, which runs between Dwarka and Noida/Vaishali.
“An external object striking OHE (overhead equipment) near Janakpuri East was reported. This had no major impact on overall services except minor regulation of trains on affected stretch, and all lines are running normal otherwise,” said a statement from the Delhi Metro.
BSES, which supplies power to the city, flagged power disruptions in some areas. “BSES teams are on high alert and are trying to restore the disruption in affected areas. The restorations may take longer than usual as safety is of prior importance,” BSES said in a tweet. Due to trees falling on the road, traffic was also disrupted in parts of south Delhi.