Cold wave intensifies as dense fog enshrouds North India, Delhi records its coldest day in December since 1901


New Delhi: There seems to be no respite in sight from chilly winter, as mercury continues to dip across the north-western and central parts of India, reeling under severe cold conditions for over two weeks.

The national capital recorded its coldest day in December since 1901, with maximum temperature at Safdarjung meteorological station plummeting to the lowest ever at 9.4 °C. A thick blanket of fog also engulfed the region, disrupting transport services as visibility dropped to season’s lowest.

“This December is the second coldest December since 1901. Usually, January is the coldest winter month, but this time, mercury has broken decades’ record in December itself,” said Kuldeep Shrivastava, Head, Regional Weather Forecasting Centre, New Delhi.

The minimum temperatures have fallen significantly from December 26 onwards, leading to severe cold wave conditions over Rajasthan, Punjab, Delhi, Haryana and west Uttar Pradesh and North Madhya Pradesh.

The dense fog led to delay of as many as 23 trains coming to Delhi on Monday. An official at the Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi said dense fog led to disruption of flight services as well, and 21 incoming flights were diverted to neighbouring cities like Jaipur and Lucknow and another six cancelled.

“There could be slight increase in temperatures over the next few days, as cold north-westerly winds are slowly getting replaced by easterlies, due to a change in the wind direction. But the conditions would still remain very cold,” said Shrivastava.

Unlike the chilly north-westerly winds coming from upper Himalayan region, easterlies (coming from UP) are known to be relatively warmer and humid. However this time, even the easterlies are also colder, since Uttar Pradesh and Central India too is reeling under cold conditions since last two weeks.

In its latest forecast, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) is expecting a fresh spell of rainfall/snowfall over Jammu and Kashmir, Uttrakhand and Himachal Pradesh over the next four days and scattered rains over Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Delhi, due to a western disturbance which has impacted the western Himalayan region.

“There could be hailstorm and lightning at isolated places over the region, including Delhi over the next two days during the new year. Since, there is change in wind direction, the fog may also reduce in intensity, but enhanced moisture will create foggy conditions after January 4,” said Mahesh Palawat, meteorologist with private weather forecasting agency, Skymet.

Cold day to severe cold day conditions have been prevailing over many to most parts of northern India since December 15 and these conditions have further intensified in last four days with most of stations over northern India reported 8-12 ºC below normal maximum temperature.

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