New Delhi: A high-velocity dust storm hit the national capital on Monday night, the weatherman said. The storm, with a wind speed of 70 kilometres per hours, hit Delhi around 11.20 PM, an official at the Safdarjung observatory said.
Gurugram, Ghaziabad and Chandigarh also experienced strong winds accompanied by rain, with trees swaying violently in the dark. Two people were also injured in a storm in Uttarakhand.
Storms also hit Haryana and Punjab with many residents preferring to stay indoors in view of the IMD forecasting thunderstorm and squall on Tuesday in several parts of north India.
The intensity of the storm is only expected to increase on Tuesday prompting authorities to put in place various emergency measures such as part-closure of schools and cancelling leave of civic officials.
The weather department has said that thunderstorm and squall are very likely in Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Haryana, Chandigarh, western Uttar Pradesh and sub-Himalayan West Bengal and Sikkim.
At least 124 people were killed and more than 300 others injured in five states due to dust storms, thunderstorms and lightning last week.
Following the IMD warning, the Delhi government decided to close all evening schools on Tuesday, and put search and rescue teams on standby.
There are around 400 evening schools running in the national capital. The government has also asked other schools not to hold outdoor activities and extracurricular activities between 3 pm and 7 pm during which the wind speed is expected to remain high.
Ghaziabad and Meerut have also decided to shut all schools and colleges. In Gurugram, several offices have asked their employees to work from home.
The government also issued a list of "dos and don'ts" to deal with any such possible situation.
The traffic police has asked commuters to check weather conditions before travelling while the Delhi Metro too has decided to exercise extreme caution in running of trains in the wake of the warning.
"If wind speed is reported in the range of 70-90 kmph then train movement will remain normal but trains will enter with a restricted speed of 40 kmph or less at the platforms on elevated section. If wind speed is reported more than 90 kmph then trains will be put on hold at platforms and no train will enter platform with a speed of more than 15 kmph," a senior DMRC official said.
The revenue department of the Delhi government has issued directions to all district officers and said water and power utilities would also keep restoration teams ready.
At the same time, the Delhi Traffic Police has advised commuters to plan their journey after checking the weather conditions.
The Delhi Traffic Police's advisory states that it has alerted the field formations to be ready to get obstacles such as fallen trees removed.
The advisory has asked commuters to avoid travelling during the storm. The Haryana government has cancelled leave of all officials in civic bodies across the state and shut all schools. Fire and other emergency services, too, have been directed to remain alert.
According to the IMD, thunderstorm, accompanied with gusty winds, is very likely at isolated places over Punjab, Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura, Bihar, western Madhya Pradesh, east Uttar Pradesh and East Rajasthan, Coastal and South Interior Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Heavy rains were very likely at isolated places over Tamil Nadu, south interior Karnataka and Kerala.
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