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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Cold wave freezes north India, fog hits air, rail & road traffic

Delhi's 2nd-Worst Fog In 8 Yrs Affects Over 600 Flights

    Frigid conditions showed no signs of abating as the mercury hovered several notches below normal in north India and a thick fog enveloped the region, throwing life out of gear. While flights were diverted and cancelled in New Delhi and Lucknow, rail and road traffic was disrupted in Rajasthan. 
    A total of 463 flights (232 arrivals and 231 departures) were delayed in New Delhi between 1am on Sunday and 11.15am on Monday as the second-worst fog spell in the past eight years hit airport operations in the city. Another 137 flights (74 departures and 63 arrivals) were cancelled and 52 diverted to other airports. Many passengers were forced to wait for several hours at various terminals. 
    The city recorded its most dense spell of fog since 2010 between January 4 and 6. Low visibility conditions set in around 5.30pm on Saturday and improved only around 11.30am on Monday, resulting in 42 hours of dense fog. The good news is that the dense fog 
hours will reduce considerably over the next three days. 
    Met department officials said that a calming of winds and a drop in temperatures led to the formation of fog on Saturday. It was initially not very dense but by 2.30am on Saturday, visibility had reduced considerably. Poor visibility conditions remained for three hours. 
    "There was not much change in the situation through the day. All through Saturday afternoon, visibility fluctuated between 400m and 600m. At 6.30 pm, the situation suddenly worsened due to heavy moisture incursion from west Delhi. By 8.30pm, visibility at IGI Airport fell to 
zero and flights were severely affected in the blinding conditions," said Dr R K Jenamani, director in-charge, IGI Met. 
    The fog in New Delhi upset flight schedules as far as Jaipur, Lucknow and Amritsar, where most of the flights were diverted. 
    There was chaos at Lucknow airport after the 20 Delhibound flights diverted there crowded the tarmac. The tarmac has the capacity to accommodate 24 planes at a time and with the sudden landing of 20 flights diverted from Delhi, it was chock-ablock with planes. 
    Lucknow airport also saw up to four Delhi flights and one Mumbai flight being can
celled because of heavy fog conditions, leaving hundreds of passengers in the lurch. Likewise, three flights to Kolkata were delayed. More than 5,000 passengers were reported to be stranded on Monday morning. 
    Another 13 Delhi-bound flights were diverted to the Amritsar airport. Most of the airlines had made boarding and lodging arrangements for the travellers to stay overnight in Amritsar but the passengers of a few low-cost operators complained that no arrangement was made for them. "Most of the 1,800 passengers who landed here were given accommodation while some had to spend the night at 
the airport," said a senior official at Amritsar airport. 
    The fog also led to around 20 trains running late, two being cancelled and 11 getting rescheduled in Delhi on Monday. The Jharkhand Express from Hatia to Anand Vihar was running up to 15 hours late. Rajdhani trains coming from Guwahati, Ranchi, Patna, Howrah, Mumbai and Bhubaneswar were running late and high-priority trains such as the Howrah Rajdhani and Sealdah Duronto had to be rescheduled. 
    In Rajasthan, foggy conditions affected rail and road traffic. Vehicles were moving at a snail's pace and some trains were running behind schedule. In a fog-related incident, at least 10 vehicles rammed into each other on the Delhi-Jaipur national highway at Chandwaji, 100km from Jaipur. 
    The intense cold wave sweeping across Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh continued unabated in most parts with the mercury dropping to a record-breaking minus 2.1 degree Celsius at Hisar. Residents of Srinagar in Kashmir Valley were digging out 2.3mm of snow that fell overnight, with the temperature plummeting further two notches to minus 2.3°C. 

Close shave for passengers as diverted plane's tyre bursts 

New Delhi:Over hundred passengers aboard an AI flight to Delhi had a close shave when the plane had to make a rough landing in Jaipur after it was diverted from Delhi due to fog. The Airbus A-320 was coming from Imphal via Guwahati and damaged its wing when a tyre burst upon landing. 
    By the time the plane reached Jaipur, visibility had fallen dramatically. But by then the plane ran critically low on fuel. The pilot had no option but to declare a fuel emergency and land blind. TNN 
'Polar vortex' puts US in deep freeze Trains Stop, Schools Shut As Mercury Dips To Sub-Zero Levels Chidanand Rajghatta TNN 
Washington: Trains froze, schools closed, and people largely stayed indoors as a "polar vortex" descended on more than half the United States on Monday, plunging temperatures to record subzero levels in many parts of the country. 
    The country's midwest and the mountain region got the worst of what is described as a mass of dense, frigid, arctic air. Temperature in Fargo, North Dakota was forecast at -35°C. With windchill, that was expected to go down -51°C in some places —not quite cryogenic but getting there — the coldest it had been in more than two decades. 
    Among major cities Chicago, known as the 'Windy City', was bracing for at least -28°C with wind chill, while New York and Washington DC were relatively lucky with about -10 and -12°C. The first flight delays and cancellations began happening on Monday morning, and passengers on an Amtrak train 
from Detroit to Chicago were stranded for more than nine hours after both the trains' engines froze. 
    The extreme cold front came on top of more than a foot of snow in some places making travel treacherous. People were cautioned to stay indoors and officials warned that exposed flesh could become frostbitten and tyre seals might leak. The National Weather Service used the term "Particularly Danger
ous Situation" (PDS) for the first time to warn denizens of the twin cities in Minnesota (Minneapolis and Saint Paul). 
    The day began fairly enough on Monday with temperatures in -4 to -10°C in the mid-Atlantic region. But they were expected to fall 40 degrees in course of the day, driving people indoors by the evening as the "polar vortex" extended its cold stranglehold on the country. 
    A "polar vortex" is a per
sistent, large-scale cyclone and they are typically found around either north or south poles. It is rare for them to swing as far as this one has into densely populated areas. But as many on social media remarked, this is just a reminder as to who is in charge of the planet: the only winner in this cold war is Mother Nature. One small mercy: It will all be over in 24-36 hours when temperatures will return to the normal winter cold.

CHILL KILL: A man catches drifting snow on his face in Kansas on Sunday. (L) A woman slips on ice during a freezing shower in Roosevelt Island, New York


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