LAHORE - Incessant fog/smog disrupted road, air and rail traffic in plains of the country, including Lahore, on Friday with experts predicting harsh weather conditions to persist this current week.

Plains in Punjab, including Lahore, hardly saw sunshine as fog came back in the evening before the existing mass cleared. It became so dense at midnight that visibility reduced to zero in open areas.

Experts are seeing some respite from prevailing harsh conditions, as a rain-producing system is approaching the country in the beginning of next week.

Isolated rains are expected in Balochistan and Sindh from Sunday night to Monday. Scattered rains with snowfall over the hills have been forecast for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Fata, Islamabad, upper Punjab (Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Gujranwala, Lahore, Faisalabad and Sahiwal Divisions), Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir from Monday to Wednesday. Rains have also been forecast at isolated places in southern Punjab (Multan, DG Khan and Bahawalpur Divisions) during this period.

Scattered showers are likely to give much needed respite from prevailing smog. Incessant fog and the resultant less visibility caused closure of motorway from Salt Range to Pindi Bhattian, Pindi Bhattian to Lahore, Pindi Bhattian to Faisalabad and Faisalabad to Gojra, causing diversion of traffic to alternative routes, including the National Highway.

Dense fog also disturbed vehicular movement on National Highway from Kharian to Sukkur.  Low visibility affected flight operation at the Allama Iqbal International Airport. It disturbed schedule of trains as well. Almost all trains reached their destinations hours behind the schedule.  A lack of sunshine caused considerable decrease in daytime temperature, increasing chill in weather.

Skardu remained the coldest place in the country where mercury dropped 4 degree Celsius below the freezing point.

In Lahore, maximum and minimum temperature was recorded 22C and 12C, respectively. Relative humidity in the evening was recorded 73 per cent.

Excessive use of heaters in offices and homes led to low gas pressure in various parts of Lahore. In certain areas, women faced difficulties in cooking meals for their families.

According to experts, continental air is prevailing over most parts of the country.

The local meteorological department has forecast mainly dry weather for most parts of the country, including Lahore, during the current week. Dense fog is likely to persist over plains of Punjab and upper Sindh at night and in the morning.