NEW DELHI: The city’s air quality turned ‘severe’ on Tuesday, in a steep spike from the middle end of ‘very poor’ over the past day, as cold wave conditions continued for the third consecutive day in the national capital.
Extremely low temperatures and calm winds were resulting in stagnant weather conditions, not allowing enough ventilation for dispersion of pollutants, said weather officials.
According to the India Meteorological Department, cold wave conditions continued in Delhi on Tuesday, with the Safdarjung Observatory, recording a minimum temperature of 4 degrees C, four notches below normal for this time of the year.
Lodhi Road and Ayanagar stations recorded minimum temperatures at --- 3.7 degrees C, which is 3.3 notches below normal and 3.8 degrees C, which is 4.7 notches below normal, respectively.
IMD officials said that the cold wave spell started in parts of northwest India from December 16-17. However, a senior official said cold winds that were blowing over Delhi for the past three days had now slowed down, being mostly calm during the day, as a fresh western disturbance was likely to reach the city on Wednesday.
The national capital is likely to get a respite from the chill from December 22 onwards, as with the western disturbance; the temperatures are likely to rise and the cold wave will abate thereafter.
On Tuesday, Delhi’s 24-hour average air quality index (AQI) was 402 in the ‘severe’ zone, as against 332 in ‘very poor’ zone, the previous day. This is the second ‘severe’ day recorded this December, with the first one being recorded on December 2 when the AQI read 429.
The AQI over the past 20 days has mostly been in ‘very poor’ zone, only occasionally improving to poor for a brief period.
The union ministry’s early warning system said that AQI was likely to further deteriorate over the next three days.
“Very calm wind, low boundary layer height, and very low temperatures are leading to such conditions, and will continue to remain so over the next three days,” it said.