New Delhi: Rainfall and hailstorm, coupled with strong winds on Thursday evening drastically brought down the pollution level in Delhi and the NCR region. The air quality index (AQI) recorded a “moderate” level of polluting — a much better news from the ‘very poor’ air quality.

The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) said that AQI of the city was at 171, a significant drop from the AQI of 349 recorded on Wednesday.

The level of PM2.5 -- particles in the air with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres -- was recorded at 76 and the PM10 level was at 119, it said.

The AQI is expected to remain moderate on Friday also. The authorities also said that southwesterly winds from the Arabian sea are expected to bring in more moisture over to northwest India.

On Thursday, operations at the Delhi airport saw massive disruption as 38 flights had to be diverted between 6 pm and 8.45 pm, and several others faced delays of over two hours due to unfavourable weather conditions.

The minimum temperature in the city settled at 15 degrees Celsius, six notches above the season's average and the maximum temperature was recorded at 19.1 degrees Celsius, four notches below the season's average.

The Safdarjung observatory, whose reading is considered the official figure for the city, recorded 4.8mm rainfall between 8.30 am and 8.30 pm. Rains continued even after that but figures for the same were not available.

Hailstorms hit several parts of Delhi and its adjacent areas. Excited people took to social media to share pictures of roads covered with hail.

The weatherman has forecast shallow to moderate fog for Friday morning and mainly clear skies during the day.

The maximum and minimum temperatures is expected to hover around 19 and 10 degrees Celsius respectively.

With PTI inputs