City shudders as mercury hits low since 2013
Gurugram The minimum and maximum temperatures touched a season-low on Saturday, at 2.4 degrees Celsius and 11.2 degrees Celsius, respectively, making it the coldest December night since 2013. Dense fog enveloped the city, reducing the visibility to zero in the early hours, as per the India Meteorological Department’s (IMD) manual observatory at Palam.
Saturday was classified a ‘severe cold day’ the IMD. Officials said that the cold wave would persist until Monday. The minimum temperature was five degrees below the normal for this time of the year, officials said.
Gurugram had recorded 2.4 degrees Celsius on December 30 in 2013 and 2.3 degrees Celsius on December 11, 1996, as per data with the IMD, the coldest days in December.
The maximum temperature on Saturday was down from 14 degrees Celsius the previous day, around seven degrees Celsius below the normal, said IMD officials. The city has been witnessing ‘severe cold/cold’ days since December 14 — the longest spell since 1997, when there were 13 straight ‘severe cold/cold days’.
According to the IMD, a ‘severe cold day’ is when two things happen — the minimum temperature drops to less than 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum temperature is at least 6.4 degrees Celsius below normal while a ‘cold day’ is registered when the minimum temperature is less than 10 degrees Celsius and the maximum is 4.4 degrees Celsius below normal. A cold wave is registered when a meteorological subdivision (eg: Haryana, Delhi and Chandigarh) sees a minimum temperature of fewer than 4 degrees Celsius below normal in at least two stations for two days.
“Severe cold wave and severe cold day are expected Sunday and Monday,” said Kuldeep Srivastava, head of the IMD’s regional forecasting centre at New Delhi. He said the cold conditions are likely to reduce around January 1, due to an upcoming western disturbance. The city might experience light rain on January 1, he said.
IMD officials attributed the cold to heavy snowfall in the hills between December 12 and 13. Icy north-northwesterly winds in Delhi came soon after a moderate rain, they said.
Air quality below par
Air quality in the city deteriorated to the ‘very poor’ category on Saturday, with a reading of 303 on the Central Pollution Control Board’s (CPCB) air quality index (AQI) bulletin at 4pm. The city’s air quality was ‘poor’ for three straight days until Friday, as per CPCB data.
The level of particulate matter (PM) 2.5, the city’s most prominent pollutant, was at a maximum of 240ug/m3, up from 213ug/m3 the previous day.
Other cities in the National capital region (NCR) recorded ‘severe’ air quality, with Delhi, Faridabad, Noida and Ghaziabad recording AQIs of 409, 447, 442 and 430, respectively.
Manesar had an AQI reading of 278 (‘poor’), according to the air quality monitor at the Industrial Model Township.
Experts attributed the lower AQIs in Gurugram and Manesar to the wind direction.
The ‘very poor’ air quality, however, was a result of the fall in the minimum temperature and low-speed winds of around 6kmph. Air quality is likely to be in the ‘very poor’ category till Monday, after which it might improve due to the rain and an increase in wind speed, as per the CPCB prediction.
Doctors in the city said the drop in temperature, along with high pollution, has led to an increase in flu and breathing issues. Patients with respiratory distress, bronchitis and asthma have been experiencing heightened symptoms over the last 10-15 days, they said.
“COPD, chest congestion and other respiratory issues worsen in winter. People with diabetes and hypertension, and those with low immunity, need to take extra care,” said Dr Neeraj Kumar, city-based physician. He added that people should dress in multiple layers and avoid staying outdoors for long.