India: Poor air quality in the north, Cyclone Gaja looms for the south

By Eric Leister, AccuWeather senior meteorologist
By Robert Richards, AccuWeather meteorologist
November 11, 2018, 9:51:10 AM EST

Air quality concerns are rising across northern India as a combination of pollution from factories, agricultural burns and Diwali festivities has resulted in dangerous air quality.

Prior to Diwali, air quality was already worsening across northern India, including the National Capital Region (NCR), where air quality was reported in the “very poor” category on Monday.

In an effort to lessen the air quality issues, the use of more environmentally friendly firecrackers was enforced for Diwali festivities, according to the Indian Express.

India 11/11

Other actions being taken include limiting the entry of trucks into New Delhi and the NCR through Monday.

Unfortunately, these initiatives have been largely unsuccessful as air quality reached the worst levels so far this year across the NCR on Thursday.

Air quality agency, SAFAR, stated on Thursday that the Air Quality Index reached 642 in New Delhi on Thursday. This level of pollution is the highest on the agency's scale and is categorized as "severe-plus emergency".

Parts of New Delhi and the NCR recorded an air quality level of 999, the highest attainable level on the scale during the day on Thursday.

Air quality improved only slightly on Friday as air quality fell from "severe-plus emergency" to "severe" with several locations in the NCR reporting an air quality level between 400 and 500.

This poor air quality is expected to linger well into this week as a tranquil and stagnant weather pattern holds across the region.

Static India Smog AP Image Oct 2016

In this photo taken Friday, Oct. 28, 2016, a layer of smog envelops the city skyline before Diwali festival in New Delhi, India. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Meanwhile, southern India can expect much better air quality due to recent rainfall.

Drier weather will build across southern India and last into early week.

India Weather Center
Interactive India weather satellite
Indian Ocean Tropical Cyclone Center

Cyclonic Storm Gaja formed in the Bay of Bengal this weekend and may bring the risk for impacts to southern India as early as Thursday of this week.

Gaja could bring the risk for flooding to parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. There will be a risk for rough seas as Gaja approaches southern India. This will cause delays to any shipping interests across the region.

Another scenario would have the cyclone weaken before reaching the coast of India with little or no impacts.

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