At least 26 persons have died in the state over the last two days due to the bone-chilling cold conditions with statewide maximum temperatures dipping about 9-14 degrees Celsius below normal.
In Patna, the maximum temperature slipped to 9.7 degrees Celsius - the steepest fall this winter - forcing the administration to order closure of all schools in the district till January 9. A review meeting on Wednesday will decide whether to extend the closure or not. However, the move won't affect the schedule of pre-boards examinations. Incidentally, all schools had been asked to suspend classes of their primary wings on Sunday.
According to reports, seven persons died in Nalanda, six each in Darbhanga and Kaimur districts, four in Saran, two in Sheikhpura and one in Vaishali district.
However, the disaster management department did not confirm any death from any part of Bihar due to the cold wave.
“There is no official report of any death due to cold in Bihar. We are trying to verify reports of deaths caused by cold in different districts. District magistrates have been asked to enquire into such deaths in their areas," Gagan, an officer on special duty in the disaster management department, told Hindustan Times.
The cold caused railway tracks to crack at one place each in Munger and Bhojpur districts and briefly disrupted movement of trains, sources said.
As cold conditions continued to prevail, Gaya was the coldest place in Bihar with the minimum temperature of 2.7°C on Monday. Jehanabad recorded a minimum temperature of 2.8°C, while the minimum in Patna was 6.1°C.
The maximum temperature in Patna was 9.7°C, which was as many as 13 degrees Celsius below normal. In Bhagalpur, it was 13.2°C (11 degrees below normal), in Gaya 15.4°C (eight degrees below normal) while in Purnia 15.9°C (seven degrees below normal).
“Cold day conditions are prevailing over most parts of the state. The maximum temperatures are below normal by 9-14°C,” said Ashish Kumar Sen, director of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD), Patna.
He said the current cold and fog were caused by the residual moisture left behind by the western disturbance, which entered parts of Bihar last week from Uttar Pradesh and drifted to Nepal.
“The cold day conditions will continue to prevail over some parts of Bihar during the next 48 hours till the westerlies sweep away the residual moisture in the atmosphere. Fog or dense fog has been observed over some parts of Bihar,” he said.
He forecast the wind chill factor would decline with 75% bright sunshine by Wednesday. “Fog and moisture have at present obstructed two-thirds of the sun light,” he said.
According to the IMD, New Delhi, dense fog will abate from many parts of the Indo-Gangetic plains during the next 12 days.
Strong northwesterly winds will prevail over the Indo-Gangetic plains January 8 onwards causing wind chill conditions with rise in maximum and minimum temperatures by about two degrees C, it said.
It said dense fog would reduce visibility by 100 metres or less over some parts of Bihar during the next 24 hours. “Cold wave conditions may prevail at isolated places over Bihar during the next 12 hours,” the IMD, New Delhi added.
In the meantime, the state government has sanctioned Rs. 28 lakh to enable district administrations to provide bonfires for pavement dwellers. Patna, Gaya and Madhepura districts were sanctioned Rs. 2 lakh each, while districts having divisional headquarters were given Rs. 1.5 lakh each and the remaining ones Rs. 50,000 each.