LAHORE - Excessive pollution has caused the fog to blanket the plains earlier than the usual period of mid December to late January, meteorological experts say.

“Normally, conditions for fog formation are met in mid December. Fog is usually formed when mercury drops below 9 degree Celsius, humidity is 85 per cent or above and wind speed is three nautical miles or less,” said meteorological expert Shaukat Awan.

“Fog has formed even when temperature in Lahore has not dropped to 9C. Accumulation of pollutants in the atmosphere due to rampant construction activity, industrial and vehicular emissions has provided a conducive atmosphere for fog formation.

“Prolonged dry spell has caused the pollutants to continue accumulating in the atmosphere. The situation will persist as no significant rain giving system is approaching the country during next 2-3 days.”

Awan added the suspended dust particles in the air were disturbing the view in Lahore even at noon.

Fog blanketed plains of the country including Lahore yesterday, disrupting air and rail traffic besides hampering vehicular movement on inter and intra city routes in the morning and late night.

Less visibility hampered vehicular movement on major intercity roads, especially from midnight to noon.

Moderate to dense fog forced closures of portions of Motorway at midnight, causing difficulties for the motorists who left with no other option except to use alternative routes including National Highway.

Thick fog also disturbed vehicular movement on almost entire National Highway.

Excessive usage of heaters in the offices and at home led to low gas pressure in various parts of the city. In certain areas, women faced huge difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

Maximum and minimum temperature in Lahore was recorded 23 C and 11 C respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 62 per cent.

According to the experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country and is unlikely to yield any time soon. When it comes, a change of weather could reduce pollution levels temporarily. “Good rains can give some respite by washing away pollutants. But the relief will be short lived as temperature will decrease and relative humidity increase after the rains, conducive conditions for fog formation,” Shaukat Awan told The Nation.

“Pollutants will again start accumulating due to human interventions. The rains will do one good thing and that is providing relief to the people from lungs and skin diseases relating to weather transition period.”

The Met Office has forecast mainly cold and dry weather for most parts of the country including Lahore during the next 2-3 days. Foggy conditions will prevail in Faisalabad, Lahore, Gujranwala, Sahiwal, Multan and Sukkur divisions during morning.