Fog blankets Chennai, flights delayed due to poor visibility

The rains for the past two days in Chennai had increased the soil moisture. A scene at  Mogappair West on Friday.

The rains for the past two days in Chennai had increased the soil moisture. A scene at Mogappair West on Friday.

Chennaiites woke up to a foggy morning on Friday. While most parts of north India witnessed heavy fog, as is usual for the season, several areas in Chennai too witnessed a morning blanketed by a thick fog.

Northeast monsoon is set to withdraw around January 8 and foggy Friday morning in Chennai was an indication of this. Until then, the State is likely to get stray showers particularly in coastal areas, according to Meteorological Department.

A blanket of fog covered most parts of the city till 8.30 a.m. on Friday and some other parts of the State, including Puducherry, also experienced foggy morning. Officials in Airport Meteorological Office, Meenambakkam, said visibility reduced to 100 metres by around 7.30 a.m. that led to suspension of flight operations. It improved after 8.30 a.m. on Friday after fog dissipated. It is normal for fog formation during this part of the year.

Fog forms when the land is cool and the air is warm and moist at lower level. The prevailing calm wind aided in fog formation. It dissipates as the land gets warmer during day time. This trend may continue for a few days, an official said.

During the past 24 hours ending 8.30 a.m. on Friday, Burliar in Nilgiris district recorded 4 cm and Tamaraipakkam in Tiruvallur recorded 3 cm. Such rainfall would continue till January 6 and 7 in south Tamil Nadu and some coastal areas. Chennai has a chance of light rains in some areas on Saturday, said N.Puviarasan, director, Area Cyclone Warning Centre.

As a result, many flights arriving at the Chennai airport were delayed anywhere between 15 minutes to half hour due to poor visibility conditions.

Flights that were scheduled to arrive from around 5 a.m. onwards from various destinations, including Bengaluru, Hyderabad and international destinations such as Bangkok and Doha, landed late as the visibility at the airport had dipped.

Similarly, several departing flights from Chennai airport to destinations, including Mumbai, Hyderabad, Port Blair, Kolkata, Thoothukudi, Coimbatore and Delhi, were delayed by nearly half an hour to more than an hour due to weather conditions. Due to a series of such delays, there may be a consequential effect on other flights too for sometime, sources said.

Meteorologists note that this is a normal phenomenon during January and visibility was up to 2,000 metres during early morning hours. Flight delays here could also be because of foggy conditions in the destinations of north India. “We are assessing the visibility level,” said an official.

Weather blogger K. Srikanth, who writes on Chennayil Oru Mazhaikalam, said rains for the past two days had increased the soil moisture. The ground has become cooler and the air temperature at surface level was warmer. During the past 24 hours ending 8.30 a.m., Meenambakkam recorded a minimum temperature of 25.2 degree Celsius.

The air temperature at higher level gets cooler. This one layer of inversion of warmer air has led to foggy condition, he said. Such fog can be noticed near water bodies more prominently.

Warmest December in two decades

Even as NE monsoon is on its last leg, weather bloggers note that 2019 witnessed warmest December in two decades. Though Chennai experienced only 20 cm of rainfall in December, rains at regular intervals led to temperature staying above normal and the city missed its nippy weather during the second half of December.

The average minimum temperature in December 2019 crossed 23 degree Celsius in Meenambakkam, which was warmest in two decades. Mr. Srikanth said whenever there is easterly winds, temperature in the city get modulated. It is not unusual for Chennai to get rains during December-end as Meenambakkam had rains in 2014.

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Printable version | Aug 19, 2022 9:16:32 pm |