RAWALPINDI: A cold wave coupled with dense fog gripped Rawalpindi and Islamabad and disrupted routine life on Saturday. The foggy conditions will continue today (Sunday), according to the Met Office.
All domestic and international flights and18 train services were affected while traffic on the motorway remained thin. Though the fog lost its intensity due to sunshine in the afternoon, the biting cold forced people to stay indoors.
“The twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad witnessed dense fog and it will continue for the next 48 hours in the morning and night,” said Rashid Bilal, a senior official at Pakistan Meteorological Department.
“The general visibility was 100 metres in the twin cities from 7pm to 9pm on Friday and remained below 50 meters from 9pm on Friday to 11am on Saturday. The fog started creeping into the twin cities late Saturday night and will continue on Sunday,” he said.
Explaining the characteristics of thefog in Lahore and Islamabad, he said moisture in the air travels downward and vanishes due to strong winds and rain in the area.
Met Office predicts cold wave and foggy condition today
“Usually, fog engulfs plain areas. In Punjab, water evaporates from canals and rivers and then mixes with the air in plain areas in the form of fog,” he said.
However, in the Potohar region, moisture travels with the air from the plain areas in the dry season. He said fog is harmless for human health compared to smog, whichis a mixture of fog and smoke in the air and creates problems for allergy patients.
The minimum temperature recorded in Islamabad and Rawalpindi was 2°C.
“Temperature did not drop to zero due to the presence of moisture in the air. The wind is biting cold because it is moisture-laden and coming from the plain areas of Punjab,” the official said.
There was chaos at the airport, railway station and on the roads in Rawalpindi and Islamabad. Traffic in the twin cities moved at a snail’s pace as visibility did not improve until late morning. People faced difficulties while going to their offices and back, with manyreaching work late.
“I remained stuck in traffic for more than an hour while returning home at night. I was not able to see 10 meters ahead due to the thick white fog,” said Sajid Malik, a resident of Khanna Bridge.
Mohammad Asghar, who lives in F-10, said traffic was moving at a snail’s pace as everyone was driving slowly and with caution.
Fiveflights from Islamabad to Dammam, Karachi, Skardu, Lahore and Dubai were canceled. More than 35 other domestic and international flights were delayed, according to officials at Islamabad International Airport.
They said the runway visibility was too low early on Saturday. International flights could not take off and the passengers were shifted to hotels.
“The fog all around Punjab has badly affected trains. Around 20 trains were late by four to five hours or more,” said an official at Rawalpindi Railway Station.
The worst affected trains were Awami Express, Quetta Express, Pakistan Express, Jaffar Express, Karachi Express, Taizgam and night coaches.
A spokesperson for the motorway police said traffic on Motorway-I, II and III was back to normal in the evening. He said the motorway police had deputed special squads at some spots for safety of the commuters.
He said the police were being provided help numbers of the motorway police in order to provide them information about latest weather conditions.
Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2019