Brace for polluted Diwali amid high humidity & cloudy skies

  • | Sunday | 5th November, 2023

Pune: This Diwali is likely to be a polluted one, at least for Pune, experts from IMD and IITM told TOI on Saturday in view of light to very light rain forecast for south Maharashtra in the run up to the festival of lights. The city is unlikely to record any rain.With a forecast of high humidity and cloudy skies during the next few days, including the Diwali period, pollution might get worse on the main festival day and thereafter.Resultantly, air quality may even drop to poor a day after Diwali in Pune, Dr BS Murthy, project director, IITM-SAFAR, told TOI.Dr Murthy attributed the rise in pollution to cloudy skies and higher humidity levels, which cause pollutants and particulate matter from firecrackers to absorb moisture in the air and expand. Their mass increases and they stay in the air for a longer period, preventing their dispersal. When particulate matter is lighter in weight, its dispersal is quicker, which may not be the case in the coming Diwali days due to a forecast of humidity and cloudy skies in Pune, he said.An IMD forecast on Saturday stated that a low-pressure area was likely to form over Eastcentral Arabian Sea around November 8, which might have some effect in Pune in terms of clouding. However, there is no rain forecast for Pune for the November 11-13 period. Thus, cloudy conditions causing higher humidity levels around that period are expected. Even though the air quality during the run up to Diwali may remain moderate, it may reach poor a day after November 12, the main Diwali day, Dr Murthy said.Anupam Kashyapi, head of weather forecasting division, IMD-Pune, said, Due to the likely movement of the system and chance of formation of low-pressure area around November 8, parts of southern peninsula are expected to receive isolated heavy rainfall in the coming days. Simultaneously, extreme southern parts of Maharashtra, such as Sindhudurg, Kolhapur and adjacent areas, may experience cloudy conditions with thundershowers at isolated areas.He said, Pune has already started seeing partly cloudy conditions, especially in the afternoon hours. Already, there is haze in the air due to increase in dust as a result of construction activities like road repair, Metro work and vehicular pollution. This has been made worse due to partial increase in relative humidity associated with cloudy conditions. Moreover, firecracker activities will only add up to this pollution during the Diwali period.He said the horizontal visibility in the city was already poor and not beyond 2-2.5km. This is a mixture of dust particles and haze that seem to cause distortion in the air, Kashyapi said, adding that Pune might have partly cloudy skies before main Diwali days, while likely chance of very light rain has not been ruled out. However, even if it rains, it would be light pre-Diwali rain and may not help much in washing away pollutants. Firecrackers are likely to make the situation worse, Kashyapi said.

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