Dust storm warning issued in northern India, states on alert

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An aerial view of the dust-covered sky in Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan, India, on May 8, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Vinay Joshi

A dust storm with wind speeds of 70km/h hit New Delhi on Monday followed by a squall. The Meteorological Department (MeT) has issued a warning of heavy rain and gusty winds for Tuesday as well.

After the warning from MeT, the Delhi government requested the closure of all evening schools on Tuesday. A search and rescue team has also been kept on standby in the wake of the warning. Water and power utilities were also keeping restoration teams ready.

“The Delhi government has decided to close all evening schools tomorrow [Tuesday] following warnings of heavy rains and thunderstorms. The government said that all evening schools [second shift that starts in the afternoon] will be shut on Tuesday,” an official statement said.

Residents have been advised to avoid bathing or showering or running water for any purpose.”This is because lightning can travel along pipes. Keep away from doors, windows, fireplaces, stoves, bathtubs, or any other electrical charge conductors,” the Delhi government stated in its official notice.

Delhi Traffic Police have advised commuters to plan their journeys according to the weather conditions. Delhi Metro has also decided to exercise caution and commuters might face delays depending on the wind speed.

“If wind speed is reported in the range of 70-90km/h, then train movement will remain normal, but trains will enter with a restricted speed of 40km/h or less at the platforms on elevated sections,” a senior Delhi Metro Rail Corporation official told Asian News International (ANI).

“If wind speed is reported [at] more than 90km/h, then trains will be put on hold at platforms and no train will enter platforms with a speed of more than 15km/h,” the official said, adding that in such a case, normal movement of trains would be restored once the wind speed is reported at less then 85km/h for five continuous minutes.

The Haryana government also closed schools for Monday and Tuesday. On Monday evening, dust storms hit Chandigarh and parts of Punjab and Haryana, with residents asked to stay indoors. Chandigarh MeT director Surinder Paul said rainfall was likely to pick up in the region from Monday night, The Business Standard reported.

The MeT has issued an alert for several parts of north and east India that could also witness thunderstorms and squalls on Tuesday. The weather department issued an amber warning, which indicated severe weather for parts of Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Delhi, Chandigarh, western Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, and sub­-Himalayan West Bengal.

Meteorological Department director Manmohan Singh told ANI on Tuesday that heavy rain and snow could be expected in Himachal Pradesh over the next 24 hours.

“Keylong’s maximum temperature has dropped to 3.5 degrees Celsius. The temperature here in Shimla has dropped 4-5 degrees below the normal temperature,” he said.

At least 124 people were killed and more than 300 injured across five states because of dust storms and lightning last week.

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