New Delhi, December 31
Dense fog and numbing cold swept large swathes of north India with the mercury settling several notches below the freezing point in some parts on Thursday, bringing to a close a turbulent year that saw the country grapple with extreme weather ranging from floods to cyclones.
Rajasthan in the west and Madhya Pradesh in central India also witnessed cold wave conditions.
Tourist resort Gulmarg in Kashmir, currently under the grip of the 40-day harshest winter period of ‘Chillai-Kalan’, was the coldest place in the Union Territory on Wednesday night with a minimum temperature of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius, officials said.
“In Delhi, where the mercury has been showing a declining trend over the past few days, the average minimum temperature in December was the second-lowest in 15 years,” the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
Data released by the IMD on Thursday showed that the mean minimum temperature (MMT) in the city this December was 7.1 degrees Celsius.
It said the MMT for December in the national capital dipped below 7 degrees Celsius only once in the last 15 years — in 2018 when it was 6.7 degrees Celsius.
Delhi also recorded eight cold wave days this December. It had recorded an equal number of cold wave days in December 2018.
In December 1965, the city had recorded nine cold wave days, the maximum so far, the IMD said.
In the plains, the IMD declares a cold wave if the minimum temperature dips to 4 degrees Celsius. A cold wave is also declared when the minimum temperature is 10 degrees Celsius or lower and at least 4.5 notches below normal.
The national capital recorded a minimum temperature of 3.3 degrees Celsius on Thursday, down from 3.5 degrees Celsius on Wednesday.
The mercury had settled at 3.6 degrees Celsius in the city on Tuesday and 5.6 degrees Celsius on Monday.
Dense fog blanketed Delhi this morning, reducing the visibility to just 50 meters.
According to Kuldeep Srivastava, the head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre, clear skies over Delhi-NCR, multiple western disturbances affecting the Himalayan region and the global impact of La Nina were the major reasons behind such low minimum temperatures.
The cold wave tightened its grip in Kashmir and the mercury settled several notches below the freezing point across the valley, officials said.
Gulmarg was the coldest place in Kashmir on Wednesday night with a minimum temperature of minus 10.4 degrees Celsius, as against minus 11 degrees Celsius on Tuesday night.
Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, recorded a low of minus 5.9 degrees Celsius, over three notches lower than the previous night’s minus 2.2 degrees Celsius.
Qazigund recorded a minimum temperature of minus 6.2 degrees Celsius, Kupwara minus 5.8 degrees Celsius and Kokernag minus 7.8 degrees Celsius, the officials said.
Kashmir is currently under the grip of ‘Chillai-Kalan’. During this period, a cold wave grips the region and the temperature drops considerably leading to the freezing of water bodies and the water supply lines in several parts of the valley.
The chances of snowfall are the maximum during this period and most areas, especially in the higher reaches, receive heavy snowfall.
Parts of Himachal Pradesh also shivered amid sub-zero temperatures on Thursday.
Tribal district Lahaul-Spiti’s administrative centre Keylong remained the coldest place in the state at minus 12.2 degrees Celsius, Shimla Meteorological Centre Director Manmohan Singh said.
Kalpa in Kinnaur district recorded a low of minus 3.8 degrees Celsius, he said.
Manali and Solan recorded a low of minus 1.6 degrees Celsius and minus 0.7 degrees Celsius.
The weatherman forecast rain in the plains, and rain and snowfall in the middle and higher hills in the state from January 3 to 6.
In the neighbouring states of Punjab and Haryana, too, there was no respite from the bone-chilling cold. Several parts of the two states witnessed dense fog and recorded the season’s coldest night on Wednesday.
Hisar in Haryana recorded the season’s coldest night as the mercury dipped to minus 1.2 degrees Celsius, eight notches below normal, the Meteorological Department in Chandigarh said.
Narnaul also recorded the coldest night of the season with a minimum temperature of minus 0.5 degrees Celsius, it said.
In Punjab, Bathinda recorded a minimum temperature of zero degrees Celsius, also the season’s lowest, while the mercury settled at 1.6 degrees Celsius in Amritsar and 1.2 degrees Celsius in Faridkot.
In Uttar Pradesh, dense to very dense fog and cold wave conditions prevailed at isolated places on Thursday, the Meteorological Department in Lucknow said.
“Day temperatures fell markedly in the Meerut division. They were appreciably below normal in Agra division, below normal in Allahabad, Bareilly and Jhansi divisions and normal in the rest,” it said.
Night temperatures were appreciably below normal in Kanpur, Lucknow and Bareilly divisions, below normal in Ayodhya, Jhansi and Meerut divisions and normal in other parts of the state.
The lowest temperature in the state was recorded in Najibabad at 3 degrees Celsius while the highest was in Gorakhpur at 23 degrees Celsius, the MeT department said.
Over a dozen districts in Rajasthan also recorded freezing temperatures, according to the weather department in Jaipur.
The mercury dipped to minus 4.4 degrees Celsius in Mount Abu.
In the plains, Churu continued to be the coldest place with a minimum temperature of minus 1.3 degrees Celsius.
Sikar, Pilani and Vanasthali recorded lows of zero degrees Celsius, 0.2 degrees Celsius and 1.8 degrees Celsius, respectively.
The weather department has predicted light rains at isolated places in the state over the next three days.
Large parts of Madhya Pradesh also felt the chill on Thursday, even as the Meteorological Department in Bhopal said no respite from the cold is likely for the next few days.
“In the 24 hours that ended at 8.30 am on Thursday, minimum temperatures were recorded in the range of 3 to 10 degrees Celsius at the IMD’s 31 weather stations in the state,” said GD Mishra, a senior meteorologist at the Meteorological Department in Bhopal.
“The state’s lowest minimum temperature of 2.8 degrees Celsius was recorded at Datia,” he said, adding this was also the lowest temperature registered in the state so far this season.
The cold weather conditions were likely to continue in the state for the next two to three days, he said. PTI