Mumbai Fog: Officials have blamed a dust storm in the middle east and other border areas for the haze.
A thick layer of fog engulfed Mumbai and nearby areas in Maharashtra yesterday morning as the air quality dropped into the 'severe' category and resulted in poor visibility. This morning, the situation improved slightly but it will take at least till evening for the city's air quality to return to normal.
As per the National Air Quality Index daily tally, Mumbai recorded an AQI of 286 today, up from a "satisfactory" AQI of 99 two days earlier.
Officials have blamed a dust storm in the middle east and other border areas triggered by a recent western disturbance for the haze in the city.
According to Program Director and Chief Scientist at Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology, Pune, Dr Gufran Beig, "Mumbai's air quality index is now in 'severe' category. Pune's situation is also the same. This is an unusual and unprecedented condition. Mumbai's AQI has not been in the 'severe' category since so many years while Pune's air quality is rarely in the 'very poor' category."
"Day before yesterday, a dust storm from the Gulf, from Afghanistan and border areas, where there are warmer temperatures, caused an increase in the surface wind speed following which it entered India due to which the AQI went down," he added.
Dr Beig said the air quality is expected to get better in the next 24 hours. "Till tomorrow evening, it might go back to pre-dust levels," he said.
An AQI between zero and 50 is considered good, 51 and 100 satisfactory, 101 and 200 moderate, 201 and 300 poor, 301 and 400 very poor, and 401 and 500 severe.
Light rainfall and winds have also led to an unusually cold weather in the city. Earlier this month, Mumbai had experienced the season's coldest morning with temperature dropping to 13.2 degrees Celsius.
The cold weather has been caused by a strong western disturbance in North India and resulted in decrease in temperatures in Mumbai from January 22 with the weather department warning that the lowest will be around 14 degrees. India Meteorological Department officials said that Mumbai's maximum temperatures recorded the steepest fall in a decade in January this year.