New Delhi, May 8:
A high-velocity dust storm hit parts of north India on Monday night with a wind speed of up to 70 kilometres per hour, the Met office said.
Delhi and adjoining areas, including Gurugram, Noida, Rohtak, Bhiwani, Jhajjar , Bagpat, Meerut and Ghaziabad.experienced gusty winds and squalls resulting in low visibility, power disruption and damage to property.
Strong gusts of wind hit several parts of the national capital late on Monday, with power cuts and uprooted trees being reported from areas such as Mayur Vihar, Janakpuri and Dwarka. Gurugram residents also reported a strong dust storm that affected visibility.
The change in weather came after the Capital experienced a hot day, with the maximum temperature of 39.6 degrees Celsius, a notch above the season’s average.
Authorities issued a list of dos and don’ts and shut evening shifts at all schools in the wake of the weather department warning. Schools were also closed in Ghaziabad and some parts of Noida.
The Delhi Traffic Police urged people to take precautions while commuting and the Delhi Metro said it was on alert for heavy rain and thunderstorms.
Dust storms hit Chandigarh and Punjab and Haryana on Monday evening when several places in the region reported power cuts. The Haryana government has cancelled the leaves of all officials in municipalities. Fire and other emergency services, too, are on alert.
At least 124 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in five states last week due to dust storms and rain.
The India Meteorological Department has predicted thunderstorms at places in Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Chandigarh, Uttar Pradesh and sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim.
There was a similar warning in Haryana on Monday and schools across the state were ordered to remain closed for two days (Monday and Tuesday) as a preventive measure.
“There could be a drizzle and gusty winds on Tuesday early morning. But the rain and thunderstorm with wind speed reaching up to 50-70 km per hour is expected to pass over Delhi towards the afternoon and evening,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, a scientist with the IMD’s regional meteorological centre in New Delhi.
Delhi chief secretary Anshu Prakash held a meeting on Monday with various departmental heads, including the state disaster management authority, discoms, fire and police, after which an advisory was issued.
“All government, government-aided and recognised unaided schools running in evening and second shift shall remain closed on Tuesday. Other schools are advised to not hold outdoor activities between 3pm and 7pm,” a circular issued by the directorate of education stated.
The Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) said it would reduce the speed of trains when the storm hits. The Metro will put trains on hold at the platforms if wind speeds are reported to be more than 90kmph, said its spokesperson.
“The disaster helpline number is 1077… Residents should secure all loose hardware on their roofs or around their homes, including window panes and flowerpots. If the storm occurs when you are in a car, remain there until help comes. Switch off all electric appliances and do not touch water or any metal poles,” the government’s advisory read. “The maximum and minimum temperatures are likely to hover around 34 and 24 degrees respectively,” the weatherman said.
IMD officials have attributed the approaching rain and thunderstorm to a western disturbance and cyclonic circulation that are likely to affect northwest India between May 6 and May 9.
“While a western disturbance would hit the western Himalayas and the plains of north India, a cyclonic circulation has also developed over north-east Rajasthan. There is also a trough of low pressure between Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. These systems would trigger rain and thunderstorms across north India and Delhi-NCR,” said Srivastava.
The IMD issued an amber-coloured alert, which means the administration has to remain on alert. Four colour codes are issued to indicate various categories of alerts. While red indicates that the authorities should take preparatory action, amber indicates the authorities should remain alert. Yellow means the authorities have to keep a watch and look out for updates, while green means no warning.
Scientists, however, said it was unlikely the approaching storm would be as potent as its May 2 predecessor. “We are expecting some rain and thunderstorm activities over northwest India. However, prevailing meteorological conditions don’t suggest that the intensity of these storms would be similar to the one that had hit on May 2,” said M Mohapatra, head of weather services at IMD.