A duststorm, with a wind speed of 90 kilometres in Rawalpindi and 80 kilometres in the capital, created problems for people travelling on roads on Tuesday evening.
Muzammil from the Pakistan Meteorological Department said very few places in the twin cities received light rain along with the duststorm. Duststorms usually last for a short while and do not affect the temperature, but the rain made the weather pleasant. He said duststorms are not unusual in this season and temperatures would remain high in June. The first monsoon rains are expected in the first week of July.
Considering the situation, a warning was issued to the Civil Aviation Authority and air traffic was suspended at Benazir Bhutto International Airport for about 45 minutes. Reduced visibility also forced people to park their vehicles on the roadside and wait out the storm. Visibility on the Islamabad Motorway was also reduced forcing motorists to slow down. However, no emergency was reported in the city, according to Rescue 1122.
The twin cities’ residents, meanwhile, enjoyed the weather after the storm coupled with drizzle in the evening.
Vendors, however, were caught in a flurry as high winds their items to fly off the tables. A samosa vender at Aabpara tried in vain to cover samosas and chaat with a plastic sheet. “I’ll just dust them off and sell them!” he joked before removing the items. Although one would have expected him to worry about the loss he suffered because of the storm, he said the upcoming month of Ramazan would help him make up for any losses he suffers.
A tea vender who proudly displays his polished teapots and cups was disgruntled as he had to wash all his utensils all over again. “It’s a hassle because it’s time and money wasted,” he grumbled.
Some had learnt their lesson from the previous duststorm and had taken precautionary measures. “I keep a check on the weather; the last duststorm overturned my stall and all the dry fruit was ruined. I’ve made a makeshift roof over my stall,” said a dry fruit vendor.
“Its summer now so sales drop during the day. Things pick up in the evening, but a storm like this doesn’t help as we have to close down. And even if the weather settles, people are reluctant to come out and shop lest it should start again,” he added.
These vendors survive on their daily earnings. A day’s loss can upset their finances. As the tea vendor put it, “One tea cup less is a whole day’s loss.”
Published In The Express Tribune, June 13th, 2012.