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Cold and fog descend on twin cities

January 07, 2013

ISLAMABAD, Jan 7: The exciting and enthralling sight of fog is becoming a nightmare for the residents of the twin cities as after creating severe cold weather in the morning the fog started descending on Rawalpindi and Islamabad soon after Monday evening.

Within two hours of sunset, the visibility was less than 20 metres and it was further reduced with the passage of time.

“During my whole 45 years in Islamabad I have never seen such a dense fog that I saw on Saturday night,” said Iftikhar Hussain, a resident of Shahzad Town. “But today it came soon after sunset and I could not even see the streetlights.”

The plains in Punjab and northern Sindh have always been facing foggy conditions in the winters as the moisture in the fields from the rivers got condensed due to cold air coming from the west and northwest. However, the situation has become severe this year.

As a result of the dense fog, the motorway has been closed to traffic. The fog has become so dense and thick in Punjab that it has even crossed over the Salt Range into the Potohar region. Under the usual conditions, the fog used to be up to 2,000 feet from the ground but now it has spread high up to 4,000 feet.

Experts believe that the climate change patterns are behind the extraordinary foggy conditions even in the Potohar and the KP areas.

“This unusual phenomenon is mainly due to continuous inflow of cold air from Europe through Iran and Afghanistan that is moist too,” said Dr Mohammad Hanif, director at Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD).

“It is unusual because the region receives very cold air coming from Siberia in these days.”

The official said the foggy condition in Potohar was due to dual movement of the winds. The soft winds coming from the east are gradually pushing the dense fog from the plains of Punjab towards Potohar and KP.

But at the same time, the continuous inflow of cold/moist air from Europe is condensing the humidity across the region, including the area north of the Salt Range.

This cold air travels at the height of 5,000 to 20,000 feet; as a result, the moisture in the air becomes heavy even in Potohar region where the fog is not thick and dense.

The fog has become heavier in the plain areas due to floating dust particles in the air; as a result, the sunlight is not reaching the ground in most of the central and southern Punjab.

The result is that the daytime temperature in most of the plain areas has dropped by an average of 10 degrees centigrade against the normal maximum temperature of 22 degrees in these areas.

The maximum temperature in Bahawalnagar was eight degrees on Monday and the same was the daytime temperature in Murree and Islamabad. “This is due to the fact that sunlight has been limited in the whole of central and southern Punjab for 3-4 days,” Dr Hanif said.

While there is no relief in sight for the plain areas, the dense foggy conditions are expected to penetrate further into D.I. Khan and Sukkur division in the coming days. But there is a ray of hope for the residents of northern Punjab, including the twin cities.

The Met Office has said rain is expected over upper parts of the country during the weekend possibly starting from Friday night.