The festive cheer of the New Year couldn't penetrate the thick fog that engulfed parts of North India on January 1st, 2024. Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi woke up to a heavily veiled morning, with visibility severely hampered by the dense blanket of mist. The India Meteorological Department (IMD) had issued a "red alert" for the region, anticipating the poor visibility conditions, and their prediction, unfortunately, proved accurate.
The dense fog, described as "very dense" in isolated pockets, wreaked havoc on train schedules. At least 21 Delhi-bound trains, including the prestigious Ranchi-New Delhi Rajdhani Express, faced delays ranging from a few hours to over six hours. Passengers were left stranded and frustrated, their travel plans thrown into disarray as trains crawled at a snail's pace, struggling to navigate the low visibility.
While the fog disrupted travel, it offered a reprieve from the recent cold wave that gripped the region. Delhi, accustomed to temperatures dipping below 10 degrees Celsius, experienced a slightly warmer morning with a minimum temperature of 10.1 degrees Celsius. However, this slight respite came at a cost. The fog trapped pollutants, pushing the air quality in the city into the "very poor" category.
The IMD has warned that the dense fog situation may persist for the next few days, urging people to take necessary precautions when venturing out. Drivers have been advised to use headlights on low beams and maintain ample distance between vehicles. Commuters, especially those relying on trains, are advised to check for delays and cancellations before embarking on their journeys.
The New Year fog has undoubtedly cast a dampener on travel plans in the affected regions. However, it also highlights the need for better infrastructure and technology to mitigate the impact of such weather events on transportation. As the fog slowly lifts, the hope remains that the rest of the year will be clear sailing, both in terms of weather and travel.
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