LAHORE: Hazardous smog that was the worst in the region once again blanketed Lahore on Tuesday, causing eye, nose and throat irritations and aggravating pulmonary diseases.
Smog also lowered temperatures as it continued to block the sun till around 10am.
The Air Quality Index (AQI) was all-time high at some places. It was higher even than in Delhi which normally is considered the most polluted city in the northern parts of the subcontinent.
The US Twitter account indicated AQI at Lahore was 567 at 9am, 613 at 10am and 564 at 3pm. The overall average was between 449 and 495.
The Met department said AQI was 553 at 4pm while media reports indicated that it was 455 at Shimla Hill, 400 at Liberty Market, 434 at Upper Mall and 470 at Sundar Industrial Estate.
The Met office said rain and strong winds to be caused by an approaching westerly wave from Iran might clear Lahore and other cities of smog to some extent in the next two to three days.
It said the westerly wave was likely to approach the western parts of the country on Wednesday (today) and expected to grip most parts of the country on Thursday.
Scattered rain-thunderstorm with snowfall over hills is expected in upper districts of Balochistan during Wednesday and Thursday. Light to moderate rain-thunderstorm is also expected in Sindh (Sukkur, Larkana, Shaheed Benazirabad, Karachi) from Wednesday (night) to Thursday.
Widespread rain-thunderstorm (with snowfall over hills) is expected in most districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Islamabad from Wednesday (night) to Friday.
Isolated heavy falls are also expected in Dir, Mansehra, Abbottabad, Haripur, Rawalpindi, Jhelum, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Narowal and Islamabad on Thursday.
Widespread rain with snowfall over the hills is also expected in Kashmir and at scattered places in Gilgit-Baltistan from Wednesday to Friday.
Fog is likely to subside in the plain areas of the country.
In its daily forecast, the Met department said weather on Tuesday remained cold and dry in most parts of the country and very cold in the northern areas.
Minimum temperature in Skardu was -8 degrees Celsius, Astore -7, Gupis -6, Bagrote -4, Kalam -3, Gilgit -2 and Parachinar and Rawalakot -1.
An indigenous phenomenon
Though the onslaught of fog on Lahore is attributed by some to crop burning in the adjoining areas of India, experts reject this notion and point out the local causes.
Imran Khalid, who holds a PhD in Environment Policy, says that in autumn and winter, the warm air does not allow the cooler air underneath to rise, which leads to visible smog and this is what is being witnessed in Lahore.
Published in Dawn, December 11th, 2019