Dust storm hits Kathmandu Valley, affects flights and road traffic

KATHMANDU: A dust storm hit the Kathmandu Valley at around 4 pm, affecting the traffic movement and flights in the late afternoon.

As the roaring storm lasted for 15 minutes causing darkness, it created panic among the Valley denizens. The road traffic was brought to a grinding halt in different places for half an hour or so.

The Tribhuvan International Airport, the country's only international airport, was forced to close the runway for the time being due to poor visibility.

Two international flights -- one each of Etihad Air and Jet Airways --  coming to Kathmandu were diverted to Lucknow, according to a duty official at the TIA.

Likewise, some domestic flights, including of Buddha Air and Yeti Airlines, were diverted to Biratnagar.

The visibility had come down to 200 metres. Flights do not take off from or land at TIA if ground visibility is less than 1000 metres.

Nepal Police's control room said no fatalities were reported till 4:30 pm. However, THT Online has received information about minor injuries on some individuals in different parts of the Valley as flying objects hit them.

A scene of dust storm from Anamnagar of Kathmandu, on Monday, March 28, 2016. Photo: THT Online
A scene of dust storm from Anamnagar of Kathmandu, on Monday, March 28, 2016. Photo: THT Online

The storm followed by drizzle, however, cleared the Valley skies that were blanketed by a haze for over a week. The mountains on the northern side were clearly visible from Kathmandu in the late afternoon.

The mountains look clear and white ... pic.twitter.com/CB3GotyFIZ

— Kiran Kr. Shrestha (@KiranKrShrestha) March 28, 2016

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Forecasting Division has said that the eastern and central regions will generally remain cloudy, and the western region partly cloudy today. The MFD has forecast brief rain or thundershower at some places in eastern and central Nepal.

Climate data for the month of March

Average Maximum Temperature: 25.3°CAverage Minimum Temperature: 8.2°CAverage Monthly Rainfall: 34.2 mm

Extreme Maximum Temperature: 33°C, March 24, 2010Extreme Minimum Temperature: 0.5°C, March 13, 1978Extreme Rainfall in 24 hours: 39.3 mm, March 12, 1978

Total rainfall till date in March: 6.30 mm