Heaviest fog of season cripples IGIA, 19 flights cancelled

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The most intense fog of this season descended on Delhi Friday morning, nearly shuttering all plane operations at IGI Airport till around 11 am, affecting the schedule of over 100 flights and disrupting at least 24 trains.

The thick haze was at its thickest around 5 am. It blinded one runway on the western side of the airport, with visibility less than 50 metres. In about 30 minutes, it moved east, blinding the two remaining runways. The fog blanket moved fast, ensuring that all ten visual range data collectors at all three runways read less than 75 metres between 6 am and 10.45 am.

"Thus, severely affecting or almost closing the airport," an India Meteorological Department official said. "This was found to be the densest fog this season."

Airport officials said at least 19 flights were cancelled and 91 delayed.

About 20 of them were diverted to other cities.

The fog affected trains too. Ten trains were cancelled and 14 were delayed, affecting thousands of people.

IMD officials said fog has hit Delhi for 18 days this winter between December and January notching up a total of 106 hours of fog. Comparing the fog hours to that of winter seasons in the past decade, IMD officials said this year was the fifth foggiest. The 2009-2010 season witnessed 172 hours of fog.

The airport, according to IMD officials, typically experiences about 106 hours of fog during the winter.

Weatherman says the fog will clear over the weekend, making way for rain and thunderstorms that are expected to hit Delhi on Tuesday. The rain will gain strength on Wednesday night and continue through Thursday.

IMD officials have compared the incoming storm to the one seen about two weeks ago, when Delhi experienced a downpour of 35.5 mm over 36 hours.

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