More than 25 flights were diverted from the Delhi airport on Thursday due to strong winds, rain and hail in parts of the city and adjoining areas. The heavy rain has brought down temperatures to 17 degrees Celsius, even though air quality in the capital remained in the ''severe'' category for the second consecutive day.
Under the influence of a western disturbance, the national capital recorded rain with strong winds, said Kuldeep Srivastava, the regional weather forecasting head of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD).
According to an Air Traffic Control official, 26 flights to the Indira Gandhi International Airport had to be diverted due to "heavy rains and strong wind", which started at around 9 pm. "As of 11 pm, 26 flights to the airport have been diverted elsewhere," the official told news agency IANS. Bad weather caused the closure of one of the three runways at the airport.
People posted images of hail and rain on Twitter.
Delhi recorded a low of 12.8 degrees Celsius and a high of 21.5 degrees Celsius on Thursday, the Met department said. The relative humidity oscillated between 89 per cent and 75 per cent.
Weather officials said the temperature is likely to drop further after Saturday.
At 4 pm, the air quality index (AQI) of Delhi was recorded at 429. An AQI of 151 and above is considered unhealthy and above 301 is deemed "hazardous". Delhi's suburbs, Ghaziabad (467), Noida (434), Greater Noida (423), Faridabad (410) and Gurgaon (395), also breathed extremely polluted air on Thursday.
The Met department has also forecast thunderstorm with hail on Friday. The minimum and maximum temperature are expected to be around 13 degrees Celsius and 19 degrees Celsius.
"Isolated heavy rainfall is also likely over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh & Delhi and West Uttar Pradesh during 12-13 th dec. Isolated thunderstorm accompanied with hail and lightning is also likely over plains of northwest India (sic)," the India Meteorological Department tweeted.
(With inputs from PTI)