Over 30 flights were diverted on Thursday evening from Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport due to bad weather as several parts in national capital and neighbouring cities were hit by hailstorm and heavy rain.
A total of 38 flights were diverted, airport officials said. Twenty three domestic and nine international flights were diverted between 6 and 8:45 pm. Among the domestic flights, nine flights were diverted to Jaipur, three to Lucknow and three flights were diverted to Amritsar between 6 and 7 pm. Two flights were diverted to Varanasi and one flight was diverted to Indore.
A chartered plane carrying Haryana Chief Minister Monohar Lal Khattar was also among the planes diverted. Mr Khattar's chartered plane was flying from Jodhpur to Delhi but it was diverted to Jaipur. He later left for Delhi in a regular flight, Jaipur airport director JS Balhara said, news agency PTI reported.
Social media users from Delhi and Noida, many of them caught unaware, shared pictures and videos of the hailstorm on Twitter and Facebook.
The weather office, earlier in the day, predicted hailstorm as the national capital woke up to an inclement weather. "The sky will remain generally cloudy throughout the day with light to moderate rain or thunderstorm and hail likely in the later parts of the day as well," the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said earlier in the day.
The minimum temperature in the city on Thursday settled at 15 degrees Celsius, six degrees above the season's average and the maximum temperature was recorded at 19.1 degrees Celsius, four degrees below the season's average.
The rains, however, failed to improve the air quality in Delhi. "Overall air quality over Delhi is ''very poor''. Air quality has not improved significantly as rainfall was not sufficient enough and wind speed was also moderate," System of Air Quality and Weather Forecasting And Research, also known as SAFAR, said.
Normal life was disrupted in several parts of north India too due to heavy rains and snowfall.
The Kashmir region remained cut off for the second consecutive day as the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway was closed due to heavy snowfall. All flights were cancelled at the Srinagar airport. An avalanche warning of varying danger levels has been issued by the state authorities for 16 of the 22 districts next 24 hours.
In Uttarakhand, several schools and colleges were closed in some districts due to heavy rainfall.
(With inputs from agencies)